NEW DELHI: Five bacteria—E.coli, S.pneumoniae, K.pneumoniae, S.aureus and A.baumanii — have been found to be the deadliest pathogens in India. According to a report published in The Lancet, infections caused by the five bacteria together claimed more than 6.8 lakh lives in India in 2019.
While E Coli, which is associated with diarrhoea, urinary tract infections and pneumonia among others, claimed maximum 1.6 lakh lives in the country, S.pneumoniae, K.pneumoniae, S.aureus and A.baumannii claimed 1.4 lakh, 1.3 lakh, 1.2 lakh and 1.1 lakh deaths respectively.
The Lancet report is based on deaths attributable to bacterial infections among 33 species, including the five mentioned above. In total, the report shows, 13.7 people died due to bacterial infections in India in 2019. The other common bacteria responsible for infection-related deaths included Salmonella Typhi, non-typhoidal Salmonella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa among others.
These bacteria were associated with infection-related deaths reported from other countries as well. The Lancet report shows an estimated 1.3 crore people died due to infections globally. Of these deaths, 77 lakh deaths were associated with the 33 bacterial pathogens included in the study, with five bacteria alone connected to more than half of all deaths. More than 75% of the 77 lakh bacterial deaths occurred because of three syndromes: lower respiratory infections (LRI), bloodstream infections (BSI), and peritoneal and intra-abdominal infections (IAA), the study showed.
“These new data for the first time reveal the full extent of the global public health challenge posed by bacterial infections,” Dr Christopher Murray, study co-author and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, said. He added that it is of utmost importance to put these results on the radar of global health initiatives so that a deeper dive into these deadly pathogens can be conducted and proper investments are made to slash the number of deaths and infections.
The pathogens associated with the most deaths differed by age. With the 940,000 deaths, S. aureus was associated with the most deaths in adults aged over 15 years globally. The most deaths in children aged 5 to 14 years were associated with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi, with 49,000 deaths, the Lancet report shows. It adds that in children older than newborns but under 5 years of age, S. pneumoniae was the deadliest pathogen, accounting for 225,000 deaths. The pathogen associated with the most neonatal deaths was K. pneumoniae, with 124,000 deaths, the study adds.
Dr Sumit Ray, who heads critical care at St Stephen’s hospital, said nearly 20-25% of infection-related deaths involve pathogens that are resistant to most of the available drugs. Recently, Apollo hospitals introduced an antimicrobial stewardship programme to improve antimicrobial use and patient outcomes. Dr Sangita Reddy, joint managing director, Apollo, said antibiotic resistance is one of the major health threats facing the world currently. “We need to tackle it effectively,” she said.