WHO Lists 12 Bacteria for Which Antibiotics No Longer Work

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a catalogue of 12 priority pathogens which have been very resistant to antibiotics. The objective behind listing the bacteria is to help scientists identify the pathogens and as well as develop newer effective antibiotics. WHO came up with the initiative to arrest the spread of pathogens that pose the greatest threat to public health.

WHO scientists collaborated with other scientists from the Division of Infectious Diseases of the University of Tubingen in Germany. To this end, G20 health experts will convene later this week in Berlin, Germany to discuss the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the need for more effective, newer drugs. The Federal Minister of Health for Germany, Hermann Grohe, will be in attendance, WHO announced in a press release.

Criteria used for selecting the list of 12 antibiotic-resistant bacteria

A combination of criteria was used by an international team of health experts to select the 12 most antibiotic-resistant bacteria threatening public health. Some of the criteria used include how deadly the infections the bacteria cause are; the need for hospitalization and the duration of stay; the possibility of communal infection and level of patients response to treatment; the ease of transmission between animals and persons; the possibility of prevention via vaccination and personal hygiene; available treatment options that are really effective; and whether new antibiotics for treating combating these bacteria are currently in the works.

Professor Evelina Tacconelli, Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tubingen underscored the need for new antibiotics against the identified pathogens and hailed WHO for cataloguing the 12 bacteria. She added urgent research and development are needed to develop new and effective drugs against the emerging health threats. She said pharmaceutical companies and research institutions alone must not be left to investigate these bacteria, but a collaborative effort between all stakeholders in the health sector, CNN reported.

Three classifications of the 12 antibiotic-resistant bacteria

WHO divided the list for these 12 antibiotic-resistant pathogens into three categories - critical, high and medium priorities for new antibiotics. The critical priority group lists bacteria such as Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa - these three are resistant to the powerful antibiotic carbapenem. The high priority group lists bacteria such as Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Helicobacter pylori, Campylobacter spp., Salmonellae, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae - these are resistant to strong antibiotics such as vancomycin, clarithromycin, fluoroquinolone and cephalosporin. The medium priority group lists bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Shigella spp., - these are resistant to penicillin, ampicillin, and fluoroquinolone among others.

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