Where Resistance Spreads: Across the World

Where Resistance Spreads: Across the World

Antibiotic resistance has been identified in all regions of the world and can rapidly spread. The amount of resistance and number of infections is different worldwide, along with the use of antibiotics, access to clean water and adequate sanitation, vaccination coverage, and access to quality healthcare.

There are considerable knowledge gaps regarding how much antibiotic resistance occurs globally. This is especially seen in low- and middle-income countries lacking laboratories to test for resistance and systems to collect infection data.

According to The Review on Antimicrobial Resistanceexternal icon, resistant infections caused around 700,000 deaths worldwide in 2016 alone. Without action, antibiotic resistance will lead to 10 million deaths globally by 2050 and cost up to $100 trillion. Germs will inevitably find ways to resist antibiotics, which is why aggressive action is needed now to keep new resistance from developing and to prevent the resistance that already exists from spreading.

How Germs Can Spread

Germs can spread within healthcare facilities, communities, our food supply, and the environment. Modern travel of people, animals, and goods means resistance can easily spread. One billion people cross through international borders each year. This includes 350 million travelers arriving in the U.S. through more than 300 points of entry.

Hand Out
Antibiotic Resistance Spreads Easily Across the Globe

Download a printable hand out highlighting information on this webpage: Antibiotic Resistance Spreads Easily Across the Globe pdf icon[PDF – 1 page].

The capacity and resources for infection prevention and control vary worldwide. A resistant threat somewhere can quickly become a threat anywhere. When infection prevention and control capacity is strengthened in a country, the world benefits. Global efforts can contribute to solutions that protect people from this threat, including:

  • Improve quality and consistency of infection control nationwide
  • Detect and respond to resistance early, containing it before it becomes common
  • Enhance and develop products that improve hygiene, prevent infections, and keep germs from spreading
  • Increase education and awareness around infection prevention and control

About Global Antibiotic Use

An important driver of resistance is antibiotic use. Antibiotics save lives but their use can contribute to the development of resistant germs. People should always be promptly treated with antibiotics when the drugs are needed for infections and to prevent sepsis. However, any antibiotic use—for people, animals, or plants—can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance.

In the U.S., 5 out of 6 people are prescribed an antibiotic each year—at least 30% of this antibiotic use is unnecessary. According to the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy’s (CDDEP) 2021 global analysis of antibiotic resistance pdf icon[PDF – 136 pages]external icon, global antibiotic consumption in humans increased by 65% between 2000 and 2015, whereas consumption in animals is expected to increase by 11.5% between 2017 and 2030. If nothing changes, antibiotic consumption is likely to increase worldwide by 200% between 2015 and 2030.

Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed medicines in the world. Globally, the use of antibiotics is increasing, particularly in low- and middle-income countries as antibiotics become more accessible and affordable. Yet some parts of the world cannot access antibiotics when they need them, putting patients at risk. While some vaccines are available, low vaccination coverage, coupled with poor water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure, leaves many people vulnerable to infection and dependent on antibiotics for treatment.

Everyone should have access to antibiotics that work when they are needed. Every country should work to reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics; improve access when antibiotics are needed; implement and measure stewardship programs; and track antibiotic use and use the data to advance solutions.

Video: CDC and Partners Fight a Global Threat

About This Video

CDC works with partners worldwide to protect people from antibiotic resistance, one of today’s greatest challenges because resistance can easily travel across borders as people and goods move. Watch the video for examples of CDC’s partnerships helping to improve antibiotic use and stop the spread of germs.

Learn More: Other Places Resistance Spreads