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Interactive online map helps researchers track spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Extending the Cure, a United States-based think tank that focuses on issues related to antibiotic resistance, has released an updated version of the ResistanceMap, an interactive map illustrating data on resistance rates of specific microbes in America, Canada and Europe.

The map was developed to serve as a resource for researchers and policymakers and provide detailed information on national and regional trends in antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic usage. The Observations blog reports:

The research group found, for example, that the U.S. has one of the highest rates of resistant staph strains among developed countries even though its prevalence in hospitals here has been declining since 2005. And the U.S. Southeast has an exceptionally high rate of drug-resistant staph, with about 69 percent of samples showing resistance to commonly used antibiotics, such as methicillin.

The map can also illuminate lines of victory against superbugs. "This map allows us to look for solutions and pinpoint regions of the world where infection control practices have been particularly successful," [Ramanan Laxminarayan, Extending the Cure director] said. A coalition of French hospitals, for example, has been able to beat back MRSA by more than a third with simple control programs, such as better hand-washing and faster reporting of new cases, according to a 2010 study.

Among the recommendations from creators of the map:

Public health officials should invest in large-scale improvements to the existing surveillance infrastructure to track established and emerging threats on a local, national and global scale. Surveillance is needed to track changes at the population, as well as the microbiological level.

Previously: "Superbug" author discusses dangers, history and treatment of MRSA, Could predictive software defeat drug-resistant bacteria?, Norway's strategy for fighting drug-resistant bacteria and Slate takes on the battle against bacteria

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