Bacteria that are resistant to multiple types of antibiotics cause 33,000 deaths throughout Europe every year. This is evident from a study by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The diseases that are caused by these bacteria are similar to the flu, tuberculosis and HIV combined. Mirjam Kretzschmar, Professor of Dynamics of Infectious Diseases at UMC Utrecht and Chief Science Officer Mathematical Disease Modelling at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), was one of the researchers involved.


Commissioned by the ECDC, a group of European specialists studied the effects of five types of infections caused by antibiotics-resistant bacteria on public healthcare in the European Union (EU). The team concluded that ultimately some 33,000 people die as a direct result of such an infection every year.

Disease burden

"Apart from the fact that people die from infections that are resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics, the disease burden of this type of infections is also significant," says co-author Mirjam Kretzschmar. "Particularly compared to other infectious diseases. The symptoms are similar to those of the flu, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined. However, our study also showed that the contribution of this type of super-bacteria towards the disease burden as a whole differs significantly per country."

The disease burden from bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics is particularly high in Mediterranean countries. It is lower in the Netherlands and Scandinavia. "As such, preventive measures must be geared to the needs of every individual country in the EU. At the same time prevention and control of this type of bacteria does require coordination at an international level."


The study showed that at least 75 percent of people who are infected by such a super-bacteria contract the infection in hospital. Specialists believe that as much as 70 percent of the bacteria are already resistant to at least one commonly used antibiotic.