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Ear infection superbug discovered to be resistant to all pediatric antibiotics
Date:10/16/2007

Researchers have discovered a strain of bacteria resistant to all approved drugs used to fight ear infections in children, according to an article to be published tomorrow in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). A pair of pediatricians discovered the strain because it is their standard practice to perform an uncommon procedure called tympanocentesis (ear tap) on children when several antibiotics fail to clear up their ear infections. The procedure involves puncturing the childs eardrum and draining fluid to relieve pressure and pain. Analyzing the drained fluid is the only way to describe the bacterial strain causing the infection.

Even after the ear tap and additional rounds of antibiotics, infections persisted in a small group of children in a Rochester, New York, pediatric practice, leading to ear tube surgery and, in one case, to permanent hearing loss. The physicians realized they may be dealing with a superbug and tested the children's ear tap fluid at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The tests showed that the superbug, called the 19A strain, could be killed only by an antibiotic (levofloxacin, Levaquin) approved for adults that had a warning in its label against use in children. With no other choice, they treated the children with crushed, adult-approved pills, and it worked.

The 19A strain was most likely created by a combination of the speed of bacterial evolution and the overprescribing of antibiotics, the authors said. They warn that, while it may very well never happen, the medical profession must now at least consider the prospect of a worse-case scenario: this multi-drug-resistant bacterial ear infection spreads to other communities, or invades the lungs and bloodstream, where it leads to cases of pneumonia or meningitis treatable only with unconventional antibiotics not approved for use in children.

Experts have been arguing for years that pediatricians need to determine the type of bacte
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Contact: Greg Williams
Greg_Williams@urmc.rochester.edu
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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