Most Global Bacterial Deaths are linked to 5 microbes. In what may be the first estimate of bacterial deaths worldwide. The researchers reported 33 bacterial pathogens were responsible for more than 1 in 7 deaths in 2019, with five pathogens linked to slightly more than half of those deaths.
“Deaths associated with these bacteria would rank as the second leading cause of death globally in 2019,” behind ischemic heart disease, write senior investigator Mohsen Naghavi, MD, Ph.D., from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a host of GBD 2019 Antimicrobial Resistance Collaborators. “Hence, they should be considered an urgent priority for intervention within the global health community.”
The findings, published online today in The Lancet, point to Staphylococcus aureus as the leading cause of bacterial death in 135 countries and Streptococcus pneumonia associated with the most deaths in children younger than five years. The three other most clinically significant pathogens were Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
“Staph aureus was linked to more than 1 million deaths globally.”
The study estimated Staph aureus was linked to more than 1 million deaths globally in 2019, whereas the other four pathogens were associated with more than 500,000 each.
“This study can be used to guide strategies for reducing the burden of bacterial infectious diseases, including infection prevention and control measures, vaccine development and implementation, and the availability of basic acute care services,” the authors write.
33 Pathogens, 204 Countries, and 11 Infectious Syndromes
The study estimated the fatal burden associated with infection caused by 33 bacterial species or genera across 204 countries or territories and across 11 infectious syndromes.
The researchers included bacteria both resistant and susceptible to antimicrobials, but they excluded Mycobacterium tuberculosis because it already is a significant focus of a global public health initiative, they wrote. And Most Global Bacterial Deaths are linked to microbes.
Researchers used data derived from death certificates, hospital discharge records, mortality surveillance, literature reviews, and microbial data, as well as estimates from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study.
In three modeling steps, they estimated the following:
- the overall number of deaths in which infection had a role
- the infectious syndromes responsible for these deaths
- the pathogens associated with these infectious syndromes
“An infectious syndrome is the infection directly responsible for sepsis and serves as the bridge between the underlying cause of death and sepsis,” the authors explain.
The three syndromes responsible for the most deaths were lower respiratory infections, bloodstream infections, and peritoneal and intra-abdominal infections. The syndromes accountable for the most deaths vary across locations.
Proper hand washing could prevent most of the diseases developed by the microbes above. Learn more about Soapy’s Infection Prevention Hand Hygiene systems.