(FiveNation.com)- Bacterial infections were the second leading cause of death worldwide in 2019, according to a new study published in the Lancet.
The study looked at deaths from 33 common bacterial pathogens and 11 types of infections across 204 countries and territories.
In 2019, bacterial pathogens were associated with 7.7 million deaths, or 13.5 of the total global deaths. That makes bacterial pathogens the second-leading cause of death in 2019 after ischaemic heart disease.
Over half of those 7.7 million deaths were attributed to just five of the 33 bacterial pathogens: Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Staphylococcus aureus, or S. aureus, is a bacterium common in human skin and nostrils. Escherichia coli, or E. coli, is a common cause of food poisoning.
The study was conducted under the framework of a research program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation called the Global Burden of Disease and involved thousands of researchers across the globe.
Christopher Murray, the director of the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and a co-author of the study said the data reveals for the first time “the full extent of the global public health challenge posed by bacterial infections.”
Murray said it was important to get the study’s results “on the radar of global health initiatives” so a “deeper dive” can be conducted into the pathogens and “proper investments” can be made to reduce the number of infections and deaths.
The research also highlighted a stark difference between poor and affluent regions of the globe.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, bacterial infections accounted for 230 deaths per 100,000 population. While in the “high-income super-region” which includes Western Europe, North America, and Australasia, the number of deaths per 100,000 dropped to 52.
The study’s authors called for increased funding, including funding for new vaccines, as a way to lessen the number of deaths. They also warned against the “unwarranted” use of antibiotics.