The WHO has posted a “Most Wanted” list for the microbial world

Antibiotic resistance continues to march on….

We have known that we are losing the ability to stop bacterial infections for a while now.  Back in 2013, the CDC posted their list of the most dangerous antibiotic resistant bacteria  in an effort to alert the world to the presence of these emerging and dangerous organisms. They arranged these organisms  in terms of hazardous threat levels: Urgent/Serious/Concerning organisms.

It appears that not much has been done towards stopping the continued progression of these organisms (now known as superbugs) in their march towards taking over the world. One such superbug was responsible for the death of a woman in Nevada. The bacteria that caused her death were resistant to 26 antibiotics. Every antibiotic in our arsenal.

Towards this end, the World Health Organization (WHO) has just published their list of the organisms that “pose the greatest risk to human health”. But the World Health Organization is not just trying to educate people as to the  risk of these organisms, but their “Most Wanted” list is to try to get world-wide big pharma to start investing more heavily in R&D to help stop the impending catastrophe these organisms pose for human health.

The WHO posted their list in terms of the need for antibiotics for three groups of organisms (from their website):

Priority 1: CRITICAL

  1. Acinetobacter baumannii, carbapenem-resistant
  2. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, carbapenem-resistant
  3. Enterobacteriaceae, carbapenem-resistant, ESBL-producing (See below!)

Priority 2: HIGH

  1. Enterococcus faecium, vancomycin-resistant
  2. Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant, vancomycin-intermediate and resistant
  3. Helicobacter pylori, clarithromycin-resistant
  4. Campylobacter, fluoroquinolone-resistant
  5. Salmonellae, fluoroquinolone-resistant
  6. Neisseria gonorrhoeae, cephalosporin-resistant, fluoroquinolone-resistant

Priority 3: MEDIUM

  1. Streptococcus pneumoniae, penicillin-non-susceptible
  2. Haemophilus influenzae, ampicillin-resistant
  3. Shigella, fluoroquinolone-resistant


One of the scariest things that is not discussed in general is that #3 on the list (Enterobacteriaceae, carbapenem-resistant, ESBL-producing)  isn’t one organism, but an entire FAMILY of organisms. This family includes such pathogenic bacteria as Shigella, Salmonella, and Yersina pestis. This family of organsims gained their antibiotic resistance through a plasmid that can be transmitted to any non-resistant organisms due to the ability to be spread by conjugation.  So, technically, any pathogenic organism in the presence of one of the “superbugs” could become superbugs in themselves.

We are truly in a world where the “most dangerous are becoming more


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