March 2, 2024

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Surge in Antibiotic-Resistant Bacterial Infections in South Korea: Cases Triple in Five Years

Surge in Antibiotic-Resistant Bacterial Infections in South Korea: Cases Triple in Five Years

Surge in Antibiotic-Resistant Bacterial Infections in South Korea: Cases Triple in Five Years

In a hospital in the Korean Jeju region, a recent outbreak of group infections caused by “Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE),” a type of bacteria resistant to even powerful antibiotics, has raised concerns.

As health authorities conduct an epidemiological investigation, it has been revealed that cases of CRE infections in South Korea have more than tripled in the last five years.

The surge is attributed to the increasing number of carriers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria due to misuse and overuse of antibiotics, combined with vulnerable hospital environments for infection management.

According to statistics from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on the 21st, the number of CRE infections in 2023 has reached 38,324, a 25% increase from the previous year’s 35,480 cases and a 3.2-fold increase compared to 11,954 cases in 2018. CRE infections were classified as a second-class infectious disease, and in June 2017, a comprehensive surveillance system was implemented, mandating immediate reporting to health authorities upon confirmation of an outbreak. CRE infections result from diseases caused by bacteria in the Enterobacteriaceae family that are resistant to carbapenem antibiotics.

Antibiotics are commonly used for bacterial elimination, growth inhibition, and prevention of infections such as pneumonia and post-surgery complications. However, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as CRE, poses a significant challenge. Carbapenem antibiotics, introduced in the early 2000s, are among the most potent antibiotics available and are used to treat bacteria resistant to existing antibiotics. While CRE is a bacteria naturally present in the human intestine, it can cause infections like urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and sepsis when it enters other parts of the body. The risk of infection in daily life is low, but it is more prevalent in patients undergoing prolonged stays in intensive care units and severely immunocompromised individuals. Due to its resistance to most antibiotics, treating CRE infections is challenging, leading to a higher risk of mortality among severely ill patients.

The continued spread of infections is attributed to the persistently vulnerable state of hospitals in managing infectious diseases. CRE infections can occur through direct or indirect contact with infected patients, contaminated surfaces of instruments and items, as well as through surgical wounds, feces, and various medical devices. Professor Om Jun-sik, an infectious disease specialist at Kwasan University Hospital, emphasized that the increasing incidence of CRE infections is due to the inadequate measures in domestic medical institutions to prevent infections through patient-to-patient contact. He mentioned that the prevalence of open ward environments and healthcare staff attending to multiple patients alone contributes to the ongoing spread of infections.

At a fundamental level, the misuse and overuse of antibiotics are identified as key factors driving the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria like CRE. In 2021, South Korea’s antibiotic usage was 16.0 Defined Daily Doses (DDD) per 1,000 people, higher than the average of 13.1 in OECD member countries.

In response to the escalating spread of CRE infections, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency plans to analyze the risk factors for bacterial transmission in collaboration with regional healthcare institutions, including treatment hospitals, and improve the response system.

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Surge in Antibiotic-Resistant Bacterial Infections in South Korea: Cases Triple in Five Years


(source:internet, reference only)

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Important Note: The information provided is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice.