1 in 8 deaths tied to bacterial infections, global study finds

Bacterial infections accounted for nearly 14 percent of deaths globally in 2019, trailing heart disease as the world's second-leading cause of death, according to a study published Nov. 21 in The Lancet.  

Researchers estimated deaths associated with 33 bacterial species using data and methods from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study, a comprehensive research effort led by the University of Washington School of Medicine's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle. The data covered bacterial deaths reported in 2019 across 204 countries and territories. 

An estimated 7.7 million people died from a bacterial infection in 2019, representing 13.6 percent of all global deaths and 56.2 percent of all sepsis-related deaths. 

The following five pathogens were responsible for 54.9 percent of deaths:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Escherichia coli
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

"These new data for the first time reveal the full extent of the global public health challenge posed by bacterial infections," Christopher Murray, MD, study co-author and director of IHME, said in a Nov. 21 news release. "It is of utmost importance to put these results on the radar of global health initiatives so that a deeper dive into these deadly pathogens can be conducted and proper investments are made to slash the number of deaths and infections."

View the full study here.

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