WHO: These 12 bacteria pose greatest risk to human health

Story highlights

Three bacteria typically acquired in hospitals are listed as critical

New drugs can take up to 10 years to reach the market, experts say

CNN  — 

Twelve types of bacteria were deemed “priorities” in urgent need of new antibiotics, according to a list released by the World Health Organization on Monday.

The first list of its kind, it highlights bacteria that global health experts believe pose the greatest threats to human health. The WHO is calling on governments and pharmaceutical companies to prioritize the development of new drugs against them.

Factors used to determine the bacteria posing the most risk included the levels of resistance seen already, the mortality rates of these bacteria today, their prevalence out in communities and the burden they place on health systems.

Hospital acquired infections

Topping the list were bacteria classed as “gram negative” bacteria, which have already shown resistance to multiple drugs.

These include Acinetobacter baumannii and pseudomonas aeruginosa, which are predominantly linked to hospital-acquired infections or infections in healthcare settings, such as nursing homes, and in patients who require equipment such as ventilators or blood catheters, which can become contaminated.

Enterobacteriaceae, which include bacteria such as E.coli and klebsiella, were listed third and also pose a greater threat in healthcare settings.

“These bacteria are responsible for high mortality rates,” said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s assistant director-general for health systems and innovation. “New, effective therapies are imperative.”

In the United States, one in 25 hospital patients are estimated to have at least one hospital-acquired infection, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Globally, antibiotic resistance has been seen in every country, according to WHO, and drug-resistant bacteria are estimated to cause 700,000 deaths each year. If no action is taken, they are expected to kill 10 million people annually by 2050.

The risk of death from a resistant pathogens is two to three times greater said Dr. Carmem Pessoa da Silva, coordinator of antimicrobial resistance at WHO.