Some of the most serious and widespread antibiotic-resistance problems worldwide are infections caused by MRSA and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). Data on the prevalence of these infections are available from many countries around the world, and the United States does not compare favorably.

About half of all patients treated in intensive care units for S. aureus in U.S. hospitals cannot be treated with methicillin or older antibiotics (CDC 2004), a much higher proportion than in most other high-income countries (Figure ES.2).