Bacterial Infections Second-Leading Cause of Death in 2019

A study published in the Lancet journal found that bacterial infections were the second leading cause of death globally.

About the research

The research was conducted under the Global Burden of Disease 2019 and Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance (GRAM) studies framework. It made use of data provided by thousands of researchers from across the world. This study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It provides comprehensive insights into the challenges posed by bacterial infections to the global public health.

What are the key findings of the study?

  • In 2019 – the year before the COVID-19 pandemic – bacterial infections were the second-leading cause of death in the world, after ischaemic heart disease (caused by narrowed coronary arteries). They accounted for nearly 1 in 8 of all deaths in 2019.
  • At least 7.7 million people (13 per cent of global population) lost their lives because of common bacterial pathogens.
  • The research assessed the deaths caused by 33 common bacterial pathogens and 11 types of infections across nearly 204 countries and territories. Five of the 33 bacteria that were responsible for at least 50 per cent of deaths were S. aureus, E. coli, S. pneumoniae, K. pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, at least 230 per 100,000 deaths were because of bacterial infection. At the same time, 52 per 100,000 deaths were recorded from “high-income super-region”, which includes countries in North America, Australasia and Western Europe.
  • This shows a sharp difference between low-income and high-income countries in terms of the burden of bacterial infection.
  • In India, the five common types of bacteria caused almost 6.8 lakh deaths in 2019.
  • E-Coli was among the deadliest pathogens that caused millions of deaths in India in 2019. A. baumannii (infection in blood, urinary tract, and lungs) surpassed Pseudomonas aeruginosa as one of the top five types of bacteria that caused millions of deaths across India in 2019.



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