Can we stop the rise of superbugs?

Here’s how we’re tackling one of the biggest threats to global health today

 

Tackling antimicrobial resistance with OUTBREAK

OUTBREAK is a world-first surveillance system designed to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance in Australia and across the world. Powered by artificial intelligence, OUTBREAK will use new sensor technologies and huge data sets to track, trace and tackle antibiotic-resistant infections, helping us to save lives.

The threat of antimicrobial resistance

Imagine a world without antibiotics – a paper cut could kill you, and routine surgeries, minor health conditions and even childbirth would carry a high risk of complications and death.

This world was a grim reality less than 100 years ago, before the advent of antibiotics. Unfortunately, it’s one we’re set to face again with the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

AMR happens when bacteria become resistant to the antibiotics used to kill them. These bacteria, often called ‘superbugs’, can spread and cause life-threatening infections that are difficult to treat. Left unchecked, superbugs could rob us of the ability to treat infections and support lifesaving surgeries and therapies.

Health

Antibiotic-resistant infections result in longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality. Without intervention, it is estimated that AMR will be responsible for 10 million deaths annually by 2050. [1]

Economy

Some estimates indicate that AMR could cost the global economy US$100 trillion [2] and cause global GDP to fall by up to 4% annually by 2050 [3].

Agriculture & food

AMR is predicted to decrease global livestock production by up to 7.5% [4] and shrink global real exports by up to 3.8% [5] over the next 30 years.

Discovering a solution through One Health

Until now, many AMR studies have focussed on antimicrobial resistance in human health. This has left significant gaps in our understanding, because antibiotic-resistant germs are also found in animals, food, water, soil and air.

That’s why OUTBREAK uses a One Health approach. This means that, as well as people, we will look at how animals, plants and the environment contribute to antimicrobial resistance. This will help us to intervene in ways that will have the greatest positive impact on our health and economy.

Our dedicated team of AMR researchers

The development of OUTBREAK relies on an interdisciplinary team, led by the University of Technology Sydney. We are funded by a stage 1 Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Frontier health and medical research program grant and supported by researchers from a range of universities and organisations, including trusted industry and government partners.
 
Together, we are uniquely skilled to generate trusted information about AMR that is underpinned by innovative science.

The OUTBREAK newsroom

A crisis of our own making?

A crisis of our own making?

OUTBREAK CEO Branwen Morgan talks to Linda Mottram, the host of ABC Radio’s national PM program, about the rise of drug-resistant superbugs.

Public information key to combating rising superbug threat

Public information key to combating rising superbug threat

With predictions that drug-resistant superbugs’ could cause up to 10 million deaths a year by 2050, a new CSIRO survey has revealed a low level of community knowledge about antibiotics. The rise of superbugs, which claimed the lives of an estimated 700,000 people...

An interview with Ian Pridham

An interview with Ian Pridham

OUTBREAK’s Chief Technology Officer, Ian Pridham, explains the process of developing a world-first AI system with many complexities and potential users.

Contact us

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  • [1] Tackling drug-resistant infections globally: Final report and recommendations. The review on antimicrobial resistance; London: HM Government and the Wellcome Trust; 2016.
  • [2] Tackling drug-resistant infections globally: Final report and recommendations. The review on antimicrobial resistance. London: HM Government and the Wellcome Trust; 2016.
  • [3] Drug-resistant infections: a threat to our economic future. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group; 2016.
  • [4] Drug-resistant infections: a threat to our economic future. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group; 2016.
  • [5] https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/health/publication/drug-resistant-infections-a-threat-to-our-economic-future
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