5 Bacteria Which Killed Almost 6.8L Humans in India Alone in 2019

Bacterial infections are common and can affect anyone. All bacterial infections may not be fatal, but some bacteria may be deadly if not treated and managed at the right time.

In India, 13.7 people died in 2019 due to bacterial infections, while globally, the death rate was 1.3 crore.

According to a report published in The Lancet, E. coli, S. pneumoniae, K. pneumoniae, S. aureus, and A. baumanii are the 5 most dangerous bacteria, found to be guilty of taking 6.8 lakh lives in India in 2019.

Of the global 1.3 crore deaths, 77 lakh deaths were due to the 33 bacterial pathogens, of which more than half deaths were associated with these 5 bacteria.

3/4th of these 77 lakh deaths were due to lower respiratory infections, bloodstream infections and peritoneal and intra-abdominal infections.

E. coli is naturally found in our lower intestines. While some strains of these bacteria are helpful in digestion, others can be harmful. The harmful strains of E. coli are mainly associated with diarrhoea, urinary tract infections and pneumonia.

S. pneumoniae (also known as pneumococcus) naturally resides in healthy individuals and typically lives in the upper respiratory tract (sinuses and nasal cavity) without causing harm. But in people with weak immunity, these bacteria can become pathogenic (disease-causing).

S. pneumoniae is the primary cause of community-acquired pneumonia and meningitis in children and the elderly. These pathogenic bacteria can also cause other pneumococcal infections, including bronchitis, rhinitis, sinusitis, conjunctivitis, otitis media, cellulitis, brain abscess, etc.

K. pneumoniae are among the bacteria that live in our intestines and faeces. These organisms become pathogenic and commonly infect people with diabetes and chronic alcoholics. They are responsible for pneumonia, bloodstream infections, meningitis and infection at the surgical site or a wound.

S. aureus colonizes (live) the nose. These bacteria become pathogenic and are responsible for skin infections, bloodstream infections, pneumonia, bone and joint infections, etc.

A. baumanii can cause bloodstream infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, etc.

Among the 6.8 Lakh deaths in India, the highest were due to E. coli, followed by S. pneumoniae, K. pneumoniae, S. aureus and A. baumanii.

The following table shows the number of deaths in India in 2019 due to the 5 most dangerous bacterial strains.


Deaths (in lakhs) in 2019

E. coli                            


S. pneumoniae             


K. pneumoniae            


S. aureus                    


A. baumanii                



These bacterial strains affected different age groups, among which S. aureus was responsible for most deaths and killed most people above 15 years.    

The below table gives a brief of the types of bacteria, the number of deaths, and the age group affected.

Age group



>15 years

S. aureus        


5-14 years

Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi            


Children older than newborn but under 5 years

S. pneumoniae      



K. pneumoniae        



The experts have put focus on the antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) programme for managing bacterial infections.

The aim of the AMS programme is to

  • Ensure appropriate use of antimicrobials
  • Avoid unnecessary prescribing of antimicrobials
  • Prescribe and dispense antimicrobials rationally
  • Select the dose and dosage form appropriately
  • Reduce antimicrobial-resistance

Bibo’s take!

To fight against bacterial infections it is very important for us to improve our immunity as most of the infection-causing bacteria (and viruses) target people with weak immunity.

  1. Bibo Kadha: We all know how important kadhas are for improving immunity. Enriched with 15 ayurvedic herbs, bibo kadha can help improve immunity to fight against pathogenic microbes. It is not spicy as other kadha and is safe and effective for all age groups (including children)
  2. Vaccination: Getting vaccinated at the right time is very important to fight against deadly pathogens. Vaccination can help prevent infections and reduce their severity (even if people get infected). Everyone should get vaccinated, but those with weak immunity, kids, people with an underlying disease condition and the elderly (above 65 years) should surely get vaccinated without fail.


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