Italy ranks second in Europe for deaths caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria

Italy is in second place, between European countries, for deaths due to bacteria resistant to antibiotics: this is what emerges from a study by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), published on the occasion of the European Antibiotic Awareness Day. In particular, based on data collected between 2016 and 2020, they are Greece, Italy and Romania to have the negative primacy: in Greece, in fact, i deaths from resistant infections there were 20 for every 100,000 inhabitants, 19 in Italy, 13 in Romania. Data on antibiotic resistance in our country also comes from the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), which has just published the reports on the surveillance of antibiotic resistance in 2021from which it emerges that, although the percentages of resistance to the main classes of antibiotics are decreasing compared to previous years, they remain elevated.

A threat to global public health

33 thousand: is this the number of deaths which, every year in Europe, are estimated to occur due to infections linked to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Worldwide, there were nearly 5 million deaths associated withantibiotic resistance, of which about 1.3 million can be directly attributed to resistant bacteria. The reports the Ministry of Health: the health and human burden of these infections is very high, comparable to that of influenza, tuberculosis and AIDS put together, making the phenomenon of antibiotic resistance a threat to global public health.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria and mushrooms develop the ability to resist drugs designed to kill them (antibiotics) and then they keep growing in the organism they have infected. This phenomenon causes persistent infections, often very difficult to treat even with so-called second or third line antibiotics, more powerful drugs that are normally administered only in selected cases. This increases the risk of multiresistance phenomena (resistance to multiple antibiotics simultaneously) e the chances of failing to cure the infection.

The main cause of this phenomenon is somehow also the solution: the antibiotic resistancein fact, derives from a excessive use and in some cases inappropriate of the antibiotics and can be countered by promoting a conscious use of these drugs. This is why, every 18 November, European Antibiotic Awareness Day occurs, as part of the wider World Antimicrobial Awareness Week sponsored by the World Health Organization: the aim is to promote awareness of proper use of antibiotics and to raise awareness of the global threat posed by antibiotic resistance.

ECDC and Iss data

To address this problem, the health institutions constantly monitor, nationally and internationally, the bacterial infections resistant to antibiotics through specific systems of surveillance, whose data warn of how critical this phenomenon is for public health. In particular, in Italy antibiotic resistance is monitored thanks to the surveillance system of the ISS, which is based on a network of clinical microbiology hospital laboratories who send i antibiotic sensitivity data for eight organisms considered relevant for this phenomenon. From the data collected in 2021 it emerged that in Italy, in 2021 resistance percentages to the main classes of antibiotics remained high, although in some cases down compared to previous years.

Italy ranks second in Europe for deaths caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria