New research reveals Australia's multi-billion dollar superbug crisis

Nov. 16, 2020 - PRLog -- One of the world's most common infections will cost Australia more than AU$1 Billion a year within the next decade, if nothing is done to stop the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria (superbugs).

Analysis by national consortium, OUTBREAK, highlights how urinary tract infections (UTIs) are becoming more persistent and harder to treat, resulting in more people being admitted to hospital where they require longer stays and more costly medicines.

OUTBREAK managing director Assoc. Prof. Branwen Morgan said drug-resistant UTIs were the canary in the coal mine for a growing number of antibiotic-resistant germs spreading in our community, animals and environment.

"Drug-resistant infections are a global health threat but this is the first time we've been able to connect the overuse and misuse of antibiotics to the health and economic impact of a single disease," Assoc Prof. Morgan said.

"UTIs affect 1 in 2 Australian women and 1 in 20 men in their life-time, currently resulting in more than 2.5-million GP appointments, 100,000 emergency department visits and 75,000 hospital stays each year.

"We found that UTIs already cost Australia's health system $909 million per year, not including indirect costs such as lost productivity. If we do nothing to stop the rise of antibiotic-resistance, that figure could easily hit $1.6 billion by 2030.

"Those figures are very conservative and don't take into account the increasing numbers of people with UTIs, so realistically it could cost much, much more than that."

The calculations were devised using a combination of national and regional data from the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) for the number of UTI patients presenting to their doctor, the emergency department, the number hospitalised and proportion requiring intensive care, as well as local antibiotic resistance trend data.

ISLHD infectious diseases staff specialist Dr Simeon Crawford said the potential costs to the economy and our way of life were extraordinary.

"We can see the alarming multi-billion-dollar impact of antibiotic-resistance across the entire health system nationally," Dr Crawford said.

"As more and more germs acquire drug-resistance mechanisms, the burden will rise inexorably. We can't afford to be complacent."

Distinguished Professor Antoine van Oijen, from the University of Wollongong, said the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria was a slow-moving but serious threat.

"COVID-19 is a very powerful example of how one untreatable virus can bring economies to their knees," Prof. van Oijen said.

"But drug-resistant bacteria are a bigger, more pervasive problem in health settings and throughout the community."


Michelle Hele, Sequel PR
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