CDC estimates at least 35,000 die from drug-resistant infections annually

Media Contacts
Matt Wellington

Former Director, Public Health Campaigns, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Health advocates call for renewed action to stop the overuse of antibiotics in meat production


ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its new Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States report, which estimates at least 35,000 Americans die annually from infections that antibiotics can no longer effectively treat. In other words, that total means there is one death every fifteen minutes from this crisis. 

Roughly two-thirds of medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S. go to livestock and poultry, and producers often misuse the drugs to compensate for industrial farming conditions. As outlined in U.S. PIRG Education Fund and its partners’ Chain Reaction report, overusing antibiotics in food animal production fuels the rise and spread of drug-resistant bacteria that can make people sick. 

In response to the CDC’s new report, U.S. PIRG’s Antibiotics Campaign Director Matt Wellington released the following statement:

“Thousands of people are getting sick every year from infections we should be able to treat, but the antibiotics fail and they die. The CDC’s report is a loud and clear wake up call that there are cracks in the foundations of modern medicine. 

“In order to keep antibiotics effective, we need to stop overusing the drugs in every setting — from the hospital to the farm. For meat producers that means only using medically important antibiotics to treat sick animals, not to prevent disease resulting from unsanitary, overcrowded and stressful conditions. 

“A world without antibiotics means common infections can once again kill on a large scale, and medical advances like surgical producers and cancer chemotherapy are much more dangerous. The choice between preserving life-saving antibiotics or risking them to produce more and slightly cheaper meat is a clear one. Let’s stop the overuse of antibiotics now.” 


U.S. PIRG is the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups. PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organizations that stand up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.