Bacterial infections: what are the five most deadly bacteria?

Bacterial infections are officially the second leading cause of death worldwide, after heart trouble. According to a study published this Tuesday, November 22, 2022 in the journal The Lancetthey are responsible for 13.6% of total mortality each year.

One in eight deaths is linked to bacterial infections

The study was conducted by the Global Burden of Disease, a group of scientists working on death and disability related to certain diseases, or certain risk factors. Several thousand researchers have therefore studied in detail thirty-three common pathogens implicated in eleven infectious syndromes across 204 countries (source 1).

The conclusion of their work is instructive: bacterial infections constitute “the second leading cause of death worldwide“, just behind coronary heart disease, which includes heart attacks. In 2019, 7.7 million people died from a bacterial infection (i.e. one in eight deaths).

The five deadliest bacteria are:

  • staphylococcus aureus,
  • E.coli,
  • pneumococcus,
  • Klebsellia pneumoniae
  • and pyocyanin bacillus.

Of the thirty bacteria studied, they were responsible for more than half of the deaths. In detail, Staphylococcus aureus is “the main bacterial cause of death in 135 countries”, specify the researchers. Pneumococcus is responsible for the deadliest infections in children under five.

According to the researchers, these observations confirm that bacterial infections are an “urgent priority” in public health.

These new data reveal, for the first time, the magnitude of the public health challenge posed by bacterial infections, they insist.

They envisage three main measures to combat this scourge:

  • infection prevention,
  • better use of antibiotics (in particular to avoid phenomena of resistance,
  • and more effective use of vaccination.

In video: The 5 deadliest bacteria in the world

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