URGENT CARE

WHO Is Now Ranking 20 Worst Antibiotic-Resistant Pathogens Facing Mankind

Pathogens are evolving at rates faster than humans can study them and create drugs for them—so scientists have had to form a triage list. In the latest issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers working with the World Health Organization report they’ve created a priority list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that need to be studied urgently in order to create drugs to fight them. The report recognizes that tuberculosis—which has the frustrating ability to resist multiple drugs—is at the forefront of investment, but says that's not the only one, suggesting Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, bacteria that can severely debilitate those with compromised immune systems, are the most critical to address. Foodborne bacteria that can be lethal, such as salmonella and campylobacter (the leading cause of foodborne diarrheal disease in the world) are highlighted as well, as is the STD gonorrhea. Researchers are hoping that creating this list will help public-health initiatives prioritize disease research.