WASHINGTON – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated Albany’s Wadsworth Laboratory as one of seven regional labs to tackle the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.
The state Health Department’s Wadsworth Center Bacteriology Laboratory will share $67 million from CDC to help detect and identify emerging antibiotic resistance cases.
“With increasing occurrence of resistance infections, the need for more laboratory capacity really exists,” said Jean Patel, deputy director of the office of antimicrobial resistance at the CDC in Atlanta.
According to a 2013 CDC report, more than 2 million people in the U.S. get infections resistant to antibiotics every year, and they are responsible for at least 23,000 deaths.
Previously, most antibiotic resistance tests were carried out in hospital laboratories, with some specialized testing at the CDC, Patel said.
But hospitals are usually focused narrowly on the testing needed to pick the right antibiotics for treating individual patients. A gap exists in the data that a hospital laboratory generates and the data the CDC needs for a response to a broader outbreak of an infectious disease or other public health concern.
“That combination of testing (at regional labs) will give us the data we need to understand where resistances are happening, what kind of resistance it is. And that way we can really have the most effective prevention strategies,” Patel said. At the same time, hospitals will get feedback that could help activate prevention and control strategies on a local level, she said.
The Wadsworth Center will serve as the Northeast regional lab, also responsible for monitoring New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
In addition to the regional labs, all 50 state health departments and some local health agencies will receive funds to help tackle antibiotic-resistance issues.
CDC’s effort to slow the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria was outlined in the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria put forward last year by the White House.
In May, the U.S. had its first report of a patient with an infection resistant to last-resort antibiotic colistin.