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2 million Americans annually get infections that antibiotics can’t cure

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sums up the scene for bacterial infections that should be curable with antibiotics-but aren't.

More than two million Americans get sick every year with infections that defy modern antibiotics. At least 23,000 Americans die each year. Such infections may account for as much as $20 billion in extra healthcare costs and $35 billion in lost productivity.

These big numbers come from a report, published today, by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report looks at the so-called "superbugs" that modern American healthcare and farming practices have bred.

"If we're not careful, the medicine chest will be empty when we go there to look for a life-saving antibiotic," CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden said during a conference call for reporters. "Without urgent action now, more patients will be thrust back to a time before we had effective drugs."

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