Antibiotic Resistance: Facts and Figures

While we spend a lot of time talking about reducing antibiotic resistance it can difficult to get a feel for the size of the problem. The team at BioMerieux have put together some facts and figures that help quantify the problem.


  •  At least 25,000 people die each year in Europe from infections due to five antibiotic- resistant bacteria.
  • In the United States, at least 2 million people become infected each year with antibiotic- resistant bacteria and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.
  •  In the United States, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections alone kill nearly 19,000 people a year – which is more than die from AIDS.
  •  C. difficile now causes about 250,000 hospitalizations and at least 14,000 deaths every  year in the United States.


  •  In some countries, over 60% of Staphylococcus aureus cases in hospital ICUs are now
    resistant to first-line antibiotics, including methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin.
  • 20 – 30% of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) infections in hospital ICUs in the United States now involve strains not susceptible to third-generation cephalosporins.
  • Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) cause about 1 of every 3 infections in US
      hospital ICUs according to 2004 CDC data.


  •  235 million doses of antibiotics are consumed annually in the United States.
  • It is estimated that up to 50% of that use is unnecessary. 
  • Up to 75% of antibiotics are prescribed for acute respiratory tract infections, despite the fact that approximately 80% of respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses. 
  • In the US, of 41 million antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory infections, 22.5 million (55%) were estimated to have been prescribed for infections unlikely to have a bacterial etiology. 
  • Around 80% of all antibiotics used in the US are given to farm animals, meaning that only 20% are actually used to treat infections in people.


  •  A recent study calculated annual costs of antibiotic-resistant infections to the U.S. healthcare system to be in excess of $20 billion. 
  • Infections caused by five multi-resistant bacteria result in approximately 2.5          million extra hospital days annually in Europe.

While not local data, this information does demonstrate the size of the problem of antibiotic resistance globally.

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  1. […] posting from pharmacist, Kate O’Hara laid out important ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE: FACTS AND FIGURES . What about the Australian situation?  Look to the excellent AURA 2016 […]


  2. […] Around 80% of all antibiotics used in the US are given to farm animals, meaning that only 20% are actually used to treat infections in people (see Antibiotic Facts and Figures). […]


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