Colds and flu

12 July 2012

Antibiotic resistance spikes in flu season

Resistance to antibiotics spikes during flu season, likely because that's when the drugs are prescribed more often, researchers report.

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Resistance to antibiotics spikes during flu season, likely because that's when the drugs are prescribed more often, researchers report.

Physicians and scientists have worried for years about the possible overuse of antibiotics, since germs can adapt and become immune to them over time.

What the study found

The researchers looked at statistics regarding antibiotic use and levels of resistance to the drugs. They found that levels of drug-resistant E. coli went up after spikes in prescriptions of two antibiotics, aminopenicillin and fluoroquinolone. The same thing happened to the antibiotic-resistant staph infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA. In the months after prescriptions for two other antiobiotics, fluoroquinolones and macrolides, went up, so did cases of MRSA.

"The correlations are concerning, but they also suggest that interventions to reduce antibiotic overuse could help reduce seasonal spikes in resistance," study author Ramanan Laxminarayan said in a Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy news release.

"Patients and doctors should work together to reduce the number of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions by not taking or prescribing antibiotics to treat viral illnesses, such as colds and flus. Flu shots also have an important role to play, reducing illness in winter months and leading to fewer doctor visits and fewer antibiotic prescriptions as a result."

The study appeared online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Read more:
Colds and flu

More information:

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on antibiotics.


(Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

 

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Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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