Antimicrobial resistance and Healthcare-associated infections

bioMérieux is at the front line in the fight against bacterial resistance and very active in the fight against healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

Antimicrobial resistance

The development of resistant bacteria is a natural phenomenon that is exacerbated and accelerated by the inappropriate use of antibiotics in the fields of human and animal health.

Antibiotics act to eliminate most susceptible bacteria. However, some bacteria are able to survive and adapt by acquiring “resistance genes” either through the mutation of existing genes or the acquisition of new genes.

The inappropriate and unjustified use of antibiotics has led to the emergence of resistant bacterial strains, making antibiotics ineffective. In all viral infections (cold, sore throat and other respiratory infections, etc.), the use of antibiotics is pointless and even harmful, as it increases bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

Today, treatment for a growing number of infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, septicemia and gonorrhea has become difficult and at times impossible because antibiotics are losing their effectiveness. We are also seeing the reemergence of certain diseases (tuberculosis, for example) due to resistance to antibiotics.
New antibiotics are in development, but none of them is considered to be effective against the most resistant bacteria. It will take five to ten years before these new compounds become available.  

Healthcare-associated infections

HAI are contracted by patients during the course of their treatment. HAI are caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Their development is facilitated by the severity of an underlying illness, the vulnerability of the patient (immunocompromised patients, premature babies, transplant recipients, elderly patients, etc.) as well as invasive medical procedures. The most common HAI are urinary tract infections, primarily due to the use of urethral catheters.

HAI have a major impact from both a health and an economic point of view (WHO):

  • More than 1.4 million people worldwide have infections contracted in a hospital setting;
  • Between 5 and 10% of patients admitted to modern hospitals in developed countries contract one or more infections;
  • In resource-limited countries, the risk of contracting a hospital-acquired infection while receiving care is 2 to 20 times higher than in a country with higher revenues;
  • The annual cost of HAI is estimated to be between $4.5 and $5.7 billion in the United States and £1 billion in England