National Infection & Death Estimates for Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial resistance is an urgent global public health threat, killing at least 1.27 million people worldwide and associated with nearly 5 million deaths in 2019, according to a report released in The Lancet. In the U.S., more than 2.8 million antimicrobial-resistant infections occur each year. More than 35,000 people die as a result, according to CDC’s 2019 Antibiotic Resistance (AR) Threats Report. When Clostridioides difficile—a bacterium that is not typically resistant but can cause deadly diarrhea and is associated with antibiotic use—is added to these, the U.S. toll of all the threats in the report exceeds 3 million infections and 48,000 deaths.

The estimated national cost to treat infections caused by six multidrug-resistant germs frequently found in health care can be substantial—more than $4.6 billion annually, according to a collaborative CDC study.

CDC is concerned about the emergence and spread of new forms of resistance and rising resistant infections in the community (outside hospitals). Community infections can put more people at risk, make spread more difficult to identify and contain, and threaten the progress made to protect patients in hospitals.

In 2019, CDC’s 2019 AR Threats Report noted that dedicated prevention and infection control efforts in the U.S. reduced deaths from antimicrobial-resistant infections by 18% overall and by nearly 30% in hospitals. However, CDC’s 2022 special report highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on antimicrobial resistance in the U.S. found that much of that progress was lost, in large part, due to the effects of the pandemic. The pandemic pushed healthcare facilities, health departments, and communities near their breaking points in 2020, making it very hard to maintain the progress in combating antimicrobial resistance.

The number of people facing antimicrobial resistance is still too high. More action is needed to protect people.