Germ not covered by current pediatric vaccine, making it tough to treat, doctors say
TUESDAY, Oct. 16 (HealthDay News) -- An emerging "superbug" that causes ear infections in children and is resistant to multiple antibiotics can only be treated with an adult medication, researchers report.
Two Rochester, N.Y., pediatricians report finding a multiple antibiotic-resistant strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae that caused ear infections in nine children in their practice over three years. The only antibiotic that was effective in treating these infections was levofloxacin, which isn't approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in children.
"We found a superbug causing ear infections in Rochester -- the Legacy strain -- that's resistant to all antibiotics approved by the FDA for use in children," said the study's lead author, Dr. Michael Pichichero, a professor of microbiology, immunology and pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and a private practice pediatrician with the Legacy Pediatric Group.
The resistant infections accounted for only 1.5 percent of the ear infections in their practice, Pichichero noted.
The findings are published in the Oct. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Pneumococcal infections are caused by S. pneumoniae, and can include ear infections, sinus infections, pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infections. Some of these infections can be life-threatening. Young children are most susceptible to pneumococcal infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, the serious forms of the disease are rare, causing about 4,500 illnesses each year. However, pneumococcal infections cause more than 3 million ear infections each year, according to the CDC.
While a vaccine (brand name Prevnar) is available that covers seven strains of pneumococcal disease,
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