Charting Drug-Resistant Bugs

An interactive online map can help researchers track the spread of antibiotic resistant microbes.

By | September 21, 2011

MAP COURTESY OF EXTENDING THE CURE, A PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY THINK TANK BASED AT THE CENTER FOR DISEASE DYNAMICS, ECONOMICS AND POLICY IN WASHINGTON, DC

US think tank Extending the Cure, which researches antibiotic resistance, has released the latest iteration of their ResistanceMap, an interactive online map that displays data on resistance rates of individual microbes in North America and Europe. In addition to comparing specific countries and regions, users can also chart yearly trends of drug resistance.

ResistanceMap makes it easy to see that after spiking in 2006, when 55 percent of Staph aureus isolates tested were methicillin resistant, the overall incidence of MRSA in the United States began to decline. Despite this, the country still leads Europe and Canada in overall rates of MRSA. Also troubling is the high rate of Vancomycin-resistant enteroccocus in the States—20 percent versus just 5 percent across the border in Canada. The United States’ overall resistance score is 33, placing it in the middle of countries included in the analysis.

“With this tool, public health officials, researchers, and others can see the progression of antibiotic resistance in the United States and worldwide,” Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of Extending the Cure, said in the press release. “By mapping the geography of resistance, we can better identify regions at risk for outbreaks… and pinpoint regions of the world where infection control practices have been particularly successful.”

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