The Lancet medical journal published research on Tuesday for the Global Burden of Disease on bacterial infections, which data shows account for one in eight deaths worldwide – second only to heart disease as the world's biggest killer.
Consequently, researchers are calling for bacterial infections to be treated as an 'urgent priority' by public health authorities.
As part of the Global Burden of Disease, a large research programme that examines epidemiological levels and trends globally, the 30 most prevalent bacteria were selected to determine how many fatalities were related to them.
Analysing 2019 figures that predate the pandemic, researchers found that bacterial infections accounted for 7.7 million deaths worldwide – equivalent to one in every eight deaths, making them the second greatest cause of death after coronary heart disease.
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Notably, five bacteria (staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, pneumococcus, Klebsellia pneumoniae, and pyocyanine bacillus) account for more than half of all fatalities. Of these five, staphylococcus aureus is the main bacterial cause of mortality in 135 countries.
As a result, experts have declared bacterial infections an 'urgent priority' in public health policies and have called for better use of antibiotics and more effective vaccination programmes.