'We must take action now' and 4 other thoughts on antibiotic resistance from CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

President Obama announced in December the National Action Plan for Combating Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis, a direct imperative for healthcare stakeholders and political readers to quickly act to make control and containment of the aggressive bacteria a priority. Thomas Frieden, MD, director of the CDC, is a vocal proponent of such containment efforts and has been involved in aggressive outreach to bring attention to growing concerns about antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Here are five recent thoughts from Dr. Frieden on what may be "the single most important infectious disease threat of our time."

1. "We must take action now to stop this completely preventable disease," Dr. Frieden wrote of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in a column for Fox News. There were nearly half a million cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis globally in 2015 and 50,000 cases of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, according to World Health Organization estimates. Patients diagnosed with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis will receive 15,000 pills and 250 injections over the course of two years to combat the infection, he wrote. The drug used to treat the infection can have permanent side effects including liver damage and hearing loss, not to mentions the outrageous cost of treatment. Inaction will see more and more cases of the difficult-to-treat infections.

2. The disease knows no borders, Dr. Frieden told The Huffington Post in an interview Friday. "We risk turning the clock back on antibiotics … if we don't improve our control efforts," he said.

3. Although incidents of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis have been drastically reduced in the U.S., cases continue to pop up around the world and there's nothing to stop the bacteria from making its way back here, Dr. Frieden told The Huffington Post.

4. Though tuberculosis is 100 percent curable, it still claims 1.5 million lives around the world, Dr. Frieden said in a December address to the House of Representatives. To prevent those deaths, the world must innovate and improve the application of proven tools combat the threat.

5. "Antibiotic resistance may be the single most important infectious disease threat of our time," Dr. Frieden said in a Wednesday interview with the American Public Health Association. "But we can delay, and sometimes even reverse, the spread of antibiotic resistance by becoming better stewards of these essential life-saving medications. Last June, the [Obama] Administration proposed critically needed investments for an aggressive, coordinated approach that — if implemented — could prevent thousands of antibiotic-resistant infections and deaths and save billions of dollars in medical costs."


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