Drug-resistant bacteria killed more than 33,000 people in the European Union in 2015, according to a new study published this week in The Lancet warning that resistant bacteria pose a real threat that needs to be taken seriously.

In a study published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, a team of doctors looked at data from more than a dozen combinations of antibiotic-resistant bacteria across the continent.

They found that more than 670,000 people became ill from five strains of bacteria in 2015, resulting in the death of around 33,110 people. The number of deaths in the EU linked to resistant bacteria was equivalent to the cumulative mortality from influenza, tuberculosis and HIV during the same period.

While the consumption of antibiotics is skyrocketing in the world, doctors have regularly sounded the alarm for ten years in the face of the rise in strains of multi-resistant bacteria.

Resistant bacteria: the hospital environment, the first place of infection

Of the more than 670,000 superbug infections in Europe in 2015, nearly two-thirds occurred in hospital settings, the team behind the Lancet study said.

This suggests urgent consideration of the treatment of bacterial resistance to antibiotics in these environments.

Italy and Greece at the top of the most affected countries

The researchers particularly selected the cases of Italy and Greece. Italy alone accounted for more than a third of all deaths from resistant bacteria in the European Union during the year studied.

During the study period, more than 10,000 people died in Italy from resistant bacteria, including E-coli and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In Greece, most deaths have been attributed to a single strain of drug-resistant bacteria.


Alessandro Cassini et al: Attributable deaths and disability-adjusted life-years caused by infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the EU and the European Economic Area in 2015: a population-level modeling analysis, The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

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