The ASTHO Take: A Week in Public Health News (October 16)

October 16, 2015|2:53 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

  • Antibiotic Resistance Could Cause More Than 120,000 Post-Surgery Infections and 6,300 Deaths Annually

Between 38.7 percent and 50.9 percent of surgical-site infections are now antibiotic resistant, and 26.8 percent of post-chemotherapy infections are, a new study in The Lancet finds. If antibiotics become 30 percent less effective, Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy researchers estimate that more than 120,000 people in the United States could contract antibiotic-resistant infections after common surgeries, such C-sections and colorectal surgeries, or chemo, and more than 6,300 could die as a result.

“Anytime you're going to need a surgery or a transplant, you're going to need effective antibiotics,” says study senior author Ramanan Laxminarayan. “It's something that affects all of us.”

Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing public health issues, according to ASTHO’s Antimicrobial Resistance and Stewardship Position Statement. But state and territorial health departments can help address growing resistance through antimicrobial stewardship programs that support healthcare providers in prescribing antibiotics judiciously.

“State health agencies are poised to play a crucial role in the prevention of antimicrobial-resistant organisms due to our long history with infectious disease surveillance and control,” says Arkansas Director and State Health Officer Nathaniel Smith, who represented ASTHO at the White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship in June.

  • Dietary Supplements Result In More Than 23,000 E.R. Visits Each Year

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that dietary supplements are behind more than 23,000 emergency room visits annually. Common complaints include chest pain, heart palpitations, and choking.

Energy and weight loss supplements are two of the most frequent offenders, particularly among young adults. Because dietary supplement producers don’t have report their products’ ingredients to the FDA, it’s hard to know what’s in them.

"We don't have information about what's contained in these products," says CDC’s Andrew Geller. "And often times multiple active ingredients are combined into a single product. For all those reasons it can be hard for consumers, clinicians and public health agencies to determine which, if any, of the specific active ingredients caused the observed effects."