Superbugs killing more people than breast cancer, trust warns
The superbug crisis is killing more patients than breast cancer as the Government is relying on flawed figures which mask the true scale of the problem, health experts have warned.
The Department of Health estimates that 5,000 people die each year due to drug resistance, but Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, claims the true figure is around 12,000.
The number of deaths is rising each year as more bugs that lead to blood poisoning are becoming resistant to antibiotics.
But the full extent of the problem is obscured because the Government statistics are calculated using “ballpark” figures from foreign studies, not those conducted in the UK.
Antimicrobial resistance is considered to be one of the world’s most serious and growing long-term threats to health, which it has been warned could eventually lead to everyday cuts and infections becoming fatal.
Yet superbugs are rarely listed on death certificates.
The UK Sepsis Trust is calling for an official register of superbug deaths in order that the rising count is reflected in Government policy.
Figures provided to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism by Dr Daniels suggest the number of people dying from sepsis, triggered by antibiotic resistant bacteria, is more than double the official figure.
This would put superbugs ahead of breast cancer, which is widely thought of as one of the UK’s biggest killers, despite the number of deaths falling to 11,433 in 2014.
When questioned about how it calculated its deaths from superbug resistance data, the Department of Health said that it took results of existing studies in Europe and America and applied the figures to the UK.
However, the study conducted by the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has since been criticised as being unreliable.
The methodology consisted of collecting death numbers from a survey carried out in 10 states in 2011 and applying it to the US’s entire population.
Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan, from the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, said: “These were not scientific estimates.”
The UK Sepsis Trust’s estimate is calculated on the basis nearly half of sepsis cases are caused by an E.coli bacterial infection and that according to the Department of Health, about a third are resistant to antibiotics.
At least 44,000 people die from sepsis each year, meaning that there are likely to be at least 7,000 deaths annually linked to antibiotic-resistant E.coli sepsis alone, the trust said.
By adding in other bugs that cause the most sepsis cases, including streptococcus, staphylococcus and pseudomonas, Dr Daniels reached a total figure of 11,884 deaths for 2015. Some 7,479 of these were caused by E.coli, according to the calculations.
Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England said: “We have made huge strides in recent years which all helps in the fight to preserve the remaining antibiotics and reduce the rates of resistant infections.”
The Department of Health is to begin a sepsis public awareness campaign.
( Source )