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Posted at 12:01 AM ET, 09/21/2011

Map tracks antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ online

There’s a sobering new way to track the spread of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” around the world online.

The “ResistanceMap ” was launched Wednesday by “Extending the Cure,” a research project that studies the rising problems of antibiotic resistance based at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, a Washington-based nonprofit. It is funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The map compiles data from a variety of sources, including the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network and the Canadian Antimicrobial Resistance Alliance.

It’s designed to be a tool for public health, researchers, doctors, the media and the public to track resistance pathogens, which is a growing problem around the world. Resistant microbes are much more difficult to treat, increasing the risk of complications and death and adding costs.

“With this tool, public health officials, researchers and others can see the progression of antibiotic resistance in the United States and worldwide,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of Extending the Cure, in a statement. “By mapping the geography of resistance, we can better identify regions at risk for outbreaks.”

Among the trends the map illustrates is that Western Europe is doing a better job than the United States of controlling certain resistant microbes. For example, the United States has one of the highest rates of infection with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the Northern Hemisphere. Nearly 52 percent of staph samples in the United States are resistant to methicillin, penicillin and related antibiotics. In comparison, only 1 percent of samples in Sweden are resistant.

The United States and Ireland have the highest rates of vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), the map shows.

The South has higher rates of resistance compared to the West or Northeast in the United States, according to the map.

By  |  12:01 AM ET, 09/21/2011

 
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