The CDC reports an “alarming” increase in the number of drug-resistant bacteria in Ukraine

Hospitals in Ukraine are now battling an “alarming rise” in bacteria with resistance to the latest antibiotic drugs used to treat the infections, a study shows published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

Officials are now calling for the “urgent crisis” to be resolved, warning that drug resistant bacteria spread beyond the borders of the war-torn country.

The researchers, including scientists from the CDC and Ukraine’s Ministry of Health, sampled hundreds of Ukrainian patients for infections they contracted while being treated at the hospital last November and December.

Their studies, detailed in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, showed that about 60% of patients with infections were fighting bacteria that were resistant to carbapenem antibiotics. The CDC describes these types of antibiotics as often “last line of defense” doctors fight bacteria after other options fail.

In contrast, only about 6.2% of samples from similar types of infections were resistant to carbapenem antibiotics in a European examination through 2017.

“In Ukraine, the confluence of high levels of antimicrobial resistance before the war, an increase in the incidence of traumatic wounds, and the war-related strain on healthcare facilities lead to increased detection of multidrug-resistant organisms with spread to Europe,” the study’s authors wrote.

For years, health officials have warned about the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance posed by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

CDC’s European counterpart warned March 2022, that hospitals should preventively isolate and screen patients from Ukraine for multi-resistant organisms.

Germany reported last year saw infections from drug-resistant bacteria rise “rapidly” after March 2022 across the country, linked to refugees and evacuated patients from Ukraine.

The biggest increases in Germany were for drug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, while other similar bacteria did not see large jumps, suggesting that increased screening could not explain the increase in reports of the worrisome bacteria.

Klebsiella is part of a larger group of bacteria called Enterobacterales that have developed resistance to carbapenem antibiotics, which the CDC has deemed to be “urgent” threat to public health.

In the United States, these drug-resistant bacteria are estimated to account for more than 13,000 cases and 1,000 deaths each year. About 5% of Klebsiella samples in 2021 were reported to be resistant, according to the CDC data.

In the study published Thursday, all of the Klebsiella samples they tested from the Ukrainian patients were resistant to carbapenem antibiotics.

Other threats to drug resistance have also been discovered in Ukraine.

In July, US military doctors treating a Ukrainian soldier said they found the patient had been infected with six different “extensively drug-resistant bacteria”, including Klebsiella pneumoniae, after he suffered traumatic burns over more than half of his body. his body.

“Isolates were not susceptible to most antibiotics and carried a number of antibiotic-resistant genes,” the doctors wrote in a report published by the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.

To effectively respond to the growing threat, the CDC’s report said health officials in Ukraine will need more training and supplies to bend hospitals treatment of infected patients during the war.

Laboratories in Ukraine have also struggled to secure enough supplies and manpower to test infections for resistance, which is key not only to assess the extent of the threat but also to guide doctors in deciding how to treat difficult infections.

“To address the alarming increase in antimicrobial resistance in Ukraine, UPHC, with the assistance of international partners, is developing locally led and implemented measures to address antimicrobial resistance and will need ongoing support to scale them nationally,” they wrote.

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