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Drug resistance developments in the UK - the HPA supports World Health Day 2011

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) welcomes actions to raise the profile of emerging drug resistance and fully supports the focus of World Health Day this year, which looks at the increasing need for the development of new antibiotics to combat this ever-growing trend in drug resistance.

Dr David Livermore, director of the HPA's antibiotic resistance monitoring and reference laboratory, said: "I am delighted that resistance is the focus of the WHO's 2011 World Health Day.  So much of modern medicine - from gut surgery to cancer treatment, to transplants - depends on our ability to treat infection. If resistance destroys that ability then the whole edifice of modern medicine crumbles." 

"It's vital to grasp that fighting the emergence of resistance is fighting evolution itself. To keep ahead it is vital that we conserve what antibiotics we have - using them carefully and prudently - and that pharmaceutical companies and regulators support the development and licensing of new antibiotics."

The HPA conducts monitoring and surveillance of antibiotic resistance in the UK and has done so since the late 1980s. The Agency also evaluates new antibiotics under development.

The HPA, alongside scientists at Cardiff University, recently co-authored a paper published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases looking specifically at the emergence of NDM-1 and its import to the UK. This is an enzyme that destroys carbapenems; an important group of antibiotics used for difficult infections in hospitals. The HPA has so far recorded 88 cases of bacteria with NDM-1 in the UK, most of them from patients linked to the Indian subcontinent (as well as 283 isolates with 'KPC' (Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase) another type of carbapenem resistance).

Further work from this collaboration,  published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases today shows that NDM-1 is widespread outside the hospital environment in Delhi, circulating in bacteria than inhabit drains and tap water. The results of the study concur with findings of the Health Committee of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi showing sewage contamination of tap water in the city.

Improvements in infrastructure to stop the circulation of resistant bacteria in sewage - are needed to assist in infection control and prevent further spread of antibiotic resistance.

Christine McCartney, executive director of the HPA's microbiology services said: "The emergence of antibiotic resistance especially against carbapenems, is a major public health concern. Antibiotic resistance makes infections much harder to treat and its spread underscores the need for good infection control in hospitals both in the UK and overseas, and highlights the need for new antibiotics to be developed."

Notes to editors

  • Latest figures for the UK on numbers of isolates of Enterobacteriaceae (not patient numbers) from UK labs, confirmed to have carbapenemases by the HPA's antibiotic resistance monitoring and reference laboratory
Numbers of isolates of Enterobacteriaceae from UK labs confirmed to have carbapenemases

 

IMP

VIM

KPC

OXA-48

NDM

IMI

KPC+VIM

2003

1

1

1

 

 

 

 

2004

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2006

3

1

 

 

 

 

 

2007

 

 

1

1

 

 

 

2008

1

2

5

9

5

 

 

2009

9

4

13

15

32

 

 

2010

9

26

229

29

44

2

 

2011

 

19

31

5

7

 

1

  • The Health Protection Agency recently developed new guidance in association with the Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections (ARHAI), to help microbiologists and infection control specialists across this UK to recognise, treat and prevent infections caused by bacteria with resistance to carbapenem antibiotics.
    The 
    new HPA guidance is available on the HPA website and issued to clinical microbiologists and infection control specialists across the UK by the HPA's Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring and Reference Laboratory.
  • Hospitals and healthcare professionals need to pay careful attention to the correct and appropriate use of antibiotics, ensure there is appropriate monitoring and surveillance of antibiotic resistance, and ensure appropriate infection control measures are in place. See the guidance on the correct use of antibiotics for healthcare professionals.
  • More information about carbapenem resistance can be found on the HPA website.
  • Members of the public should adhere to the correct use of antibiotics, not store any unused antibiotics, and ensure that they use them for the recommended duration as prescribed by their doctor.
  • For media enquiries please contact the national HPA press office at Colindale on
    020 8327 7097/6647/6690, out of hours 020 8200 4400 or email
    cfipressoffice@hpa.org.uk

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