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WHO calls pandemic-fueled ‘superbug’ surge one of humanity’s greatest threats

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a special report about the surge in antibiotic resistant bacteria that is sweeping the nation. 

According to health officials at the agency, the COVID-19 pandemic erased decades of progress in the fight against life-threatening antibiotic resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs.”

Drug resistance occurs when bacteria, fungi and parasites evolve and no longer respond to treatment that would have otherwise wiped them out in the past. 

“The pandemic was extremely challenging for all of us,” said Dr. Jason Sull, one of the co-directors of the antimicrobial stewardship program at the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine. “Probably the greatest in the health care sector, even the veterinary sector. We had issues with things like infection control. Things that we would have had such as masks and gloves, we had shortages of those. We had shortages of staff, and all of these things resulted in an increased use in antibiotics when they probably didn’t need to be used.” 

Sull says this is a problem because the more we use antibiotics, the more ineffective they become. This is how superbugs evolve to become resistant to treatment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has unmistakably shown us that antimicrobial resistance will not stop if we let down our guard; there is no time to waste,” Michael Craig, director of the CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Coordination and Strategy Unit, said in an interview. “The best way to avert a pandemic caused by an antimicrobial-resistant pathogen is to identify gaps and invest in prevention to keep our nation safe.”

The World Health Organization has declared drug-resistant superbugs one of the 10 greatest public health threats to humanity.