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Reducing antibiotic use lowers rates of drug-resistant bacteria

Fewer antibiotic prescriptions leads to fewer "superbugs." That's the take-home message behind a new study in the Oct. 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, now available online. The study found that reducing antibiotic use for pediatric respiratory tract infections resulted in lower rates of carriage of drug-resistant bacteria.

Drug-resistant bacteria, commonly called "superbugs," are fast becoming a problem due to overuse and inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics. Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, also called pneumococci, are commonly found in children's noses and throats, and can result in ear infections, sinusitis, pneumonia and even meningitis. Many pneumococcal infections are treated with penicillin, but resistance to the drug is making the microbes more difficult to control.

Researchers in France tested two intervention methods intended to reduce the rate of carriage of penicillin-resistant pneumococci in kindergarteners. The prescription-reduction method involved not prescribing antibiotics for respiratory tract infections that were thought to be viral, since antibiotics work against bacteria, not viruses. The dose/duration method involved using only recommended doses of antibiotics for no longer than 5 days. The researchers also targeted physicians, pharmacists, parents, and children in the groups receiving both interventions with an information campaign about antibiotic resistance and appropriate antibiotic use. A control group of children and their doctors received no specific information about antibiotic use.

The study was conducted from January through May of 2000. By the end of the study, antibiotic use had declined by more than 15 percent in both intervention groups, compared to less than 4 percent in the control group. Although colonization by regular pneumococci was higher in the intervention groups than in the control group, colonization by penicillin-resistant pneumococci was lower in the intervention groups than i
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Source:Infectious Diseases Society of America


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