Study reveals that bacterial infections were the second cause of death in the world in 2019

One in eight deaths recorded in 2019 is linked to bacterial infections, which were the second leading cause of death in the world that year, reveals a study released this Tuesday in the scientific journal Lancet.

In that year, 7.7 million deaths (13.6% of the total) were related to 33 common bacterial infections, with more than half of cases linked to just five bacteria (S. aureus, E. coli, S. pneumoniae, K . pneumoniae and P. aeruginosa), shows the investigation.

“These new data reveal, for the first time, the extent of the challenge that bacterial infections pose to public health worldwide,” said Christopher Murray, study co-author and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at University of Washington, cited in the release of the report.

The calculations were made “for all ages and sexes” in 204 countries and territories, with the researchers using 343 million “individual and isolated pathogen records to estimate the deaths associated with each pathogen and the type of infection responsible”.

The new study “provides the first global estimates of mortality associated with 33 common bacterial pathogens and the 11 major types of infection – known as infectious syndromes – that lead to death from sepsis.”

More than 75% of those 7.7 million deaths were due to three syndromes: lower respiratory tract infections, bloodstream infections, and peritoneal and intra-abdominal infections.

Regarding the five bacteria responsible for more than half of the deaths, the main one is S. aureus (1.1 million deaths), followed by E. coli (950 thousand deaths), S. pneumoniae (829 thousand), K. pneumoniae (790,000) and P. aeruginosa (559,000). These pathogens caused “a similar number of female and male deaths”.

But mortality rates based on age and the type of deadliest pathogens vary by location.

Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest death rate (230 deaths per 100,000 population), while the highest-income super-region (which includes countries in Western Europe, North America and Australasia) had the lowest (52 deaths per 100,000 population).

By country, the Central African Republic had the highest rate (394 deaths per 100,000 population) and Iceland the lowest (35.7 per 100,000).

According to the study, S. aureus was the main bacterial cause of death in 135 countries, followed by E. coli (37 countries), S. pneumoniae (24 countries) and K. pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii (4 countries each) .

The pathogens associated with most deaths also differ by age.

S. aureus was associated with most deaths in adults over 15 years of age and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi was associated with most deaths in children aged five to 14 years.

The pathogen associated with the highest number of neonatal deaths was K. pneumoniae, while S. pneumoniae was the most deadly in children under five years of age, with the exception of newborns, the study showed.

The researchers point out that while many estimates exist for pathogens such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), calculations regarding the health burden of bacterial pathogens have so far been limited to a handful of specific types and types. of infection or focused only on certain populations.

In 2019, S. aureus and E. coli were associated with more deaths than HIV/AIDS, but analyzes show that 42 billion dollars (about 41 billion euros) were allocated to research this virus. , while that relating to E. coli received 800 million (781.4 million euros).

The study admits that the differences may be due to the lack of data on the global importance of those infections.

“Until now, there has been a clear lack of country-level estimates for parts of the world where people are most affected by bacterial infections,” said Authia Gray, study co-author and researcher at IHME.

“These new data can be used as a guide to help address the disproportionately high burden of bacterial infections in lower-middle-income countries and may ultimately help save lives and prevent people from losing years of their lives. due to illness,” he said.

The reduction of bacterial infections should become a public health priority globally, stresses the study, considering that, to reduce the burden of the diseases they cause, it is essential to build stronger health systems, with greater laboratory capacity diagnosis, the application of control measures and the optimization of the use of antibiotics.

“Effective antimicrobials exist for all 33 bacteria investigated”, he indicates, adding that “much of the disproportionately high burden (of infections) in lower-middle-income countries can be attributed to inadequate access to effective antimicrobials, weak health systems and to insufficient prevention programs”.

For the researchers, the “essential prevention strategies” include “better access to drinking water and sanitary facilities, increasing vaccination rates, developing new vaccines”, and it is also important to improve access to the appropriate antibiotic for each infection. .

For bacteria for which there is no vaccine, their development is crucial, they insist, also noting the importance of developing new and effective antibiotics to face “the growing threat” of antimicrobial resistance and bacterial infections in general.

Source: Correio da Manhã by

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