The Tiny Problem Sickening Millions of Americans

November 14, 2019, 12:18 AM UTC

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There’s a major threat to Americans’ health—and it’s microscopic.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has updated its list of antibiotic-resistant threats. And the litany of superbugs has grown to 18 bacteria and fungi capable of warding off many existing treatments.

According to the CDC, there are more than 2.8 million cases of antibiotic-resistant superbug infections in the U.S. each year, and more than 35,000 deaths (and that’s not even including some 224,000 Clostridioides difficile infections and 13,000 deaths in 2017). Some of the most dangerous culprits include Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and the fungus Candida auris.

“CDC is concerned about rising resistant infections in the community, which can put more people at risk, make spread more difficult to identify and contain, and threaten the progress made to protect patients in healthcare,” wrote the CDC. “The emergence and spread of new forms of resistance remains a concern.”

Previously, public health officials have described drug-resistant superbugs as a “ticking time bomb” for the planet. The CDC’s new report highlights the specific strains of bacteria and fungi that researchers should focus on.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


Google, Ascension's Project Nightingale draws federal scrutiny. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is launching an inquiry into Google's partnership with Ascension, one of the largest health care providers in America, to collect health data on millions of Americans through "Project Nightingale." The inquiry is being led by HHS' Office for Civil Rights. No matter how this shakes out, though, the bigger takeaway here is: Tech companies have been elbowing their way into health care for a while now, and the efforts are probably going to catch up to them, sooner or later, from the regulatory standpoint. Whether they come out victorious is a more open question. (CNN)

Weill Family Foundation to round up three universities for $106 million "Neurohub." The Weill Family Foundation (WFF) will give out $106 million in order to create a "Neurohub" that unites three major universities—UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, and the University of Washington—with the goal of developing new brain disease treatments. The precise details are still unclear, but WFF says it hopes to "forge and nurture new collaborations between neuroscientists and researchers working in an array of other disciplines: including engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry, and mathematics, to speed the development of new therapies for diseases and disorders that affect the brain and nervous system." (FierceBiotech)


Glaxo asthma treatment shows promise in rare blood disorder. GlaxoSmithKline asthma drug Nucala has shown promise in reducing flareups for the rare blood disease hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES), according to results of a phase 3 clinical trial. This is the first such drug to demonstrate efficacy against HES flareups in a trial; the disease can lead to skin rashes, dizziness, shortness of breath, and a host of other symptoms due to high numbers of a specific type of white blood cell. (The Pharma Letter)


The long-term health effects of climate change. A massive new global study underscores the long-term consequences of climate change on human health—including the rise of infectious diseases, food shortages that can lead to malnutrition, and devastating floods and heat waves that could kill millions. The people most vulnerable to these climate change effects, according to researchers, are young children and individuals in low-income countries. (Reuters)


California's New Gig Economy Worker Law Faces Its First Legal Challengeby The Associated Press

How Fintech's Third Wave Will Change How You Bankby Robert Hackett

Companies With a Female Founder Are Exiting More Quickly Than Male-Founded Startups, by Kristen Bellstrom

How to Get the Data Engine Hummingby Alan Murray

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