Antibiotic Resistance Still a Major Public Health Threat

MRSA infections in emergency rooms have increased 211 percent between 2000 and 2008, another study found. The incidence in multi-drug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii, a gram-negative bacteria, is also on the rise, largely in the hospital, said researchers from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

On the more positive side, a meta-analysis of studies on extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis found that newer versions of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones did seem to help people with this infection.

These findings are ironic, said Dr. Neil Fishman, chair of the IDSA Antimicrobial Resistance Work Group and director of the Antimicrobial Management Program for the University of Pennsylvania Health System. "Fluoroquinolones have been implicated in causing a lot of problems with resistance and, to some extent, fluoroquinolones are the schoolyard bully of resistance," he said. Proper "stewardship," or prudent use of antibiotics would help curb this trend, he added.

Experts at the teleconference also expressed hope that the attention being focused on H1N1 (swine) flu right now could act as a "wedge" issue, to further spotlight the antibiotic problem. For the moment, however, H1N1 is eclipsing the resistance issue, even though many people succumbing to H1N1 also end up with bacterial infections.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on antibiotic resistance.

SOURCES: Oct. 30, 2009, teleconference with: Neil Fishman, M.D., chair, IDSA Antimicrobial Resistance Work Group, director, Department of Healthcare Epidemiology and Infection Control, and director, Antimicrobial Management Program, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia; Brad Spellberg, M.D., member, IDSA Antimicrobial Availability Task Force, assistant professor, medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, and author, Rising Plague: The Global Threat from Deadly Bacteria and Our Dwindling Arsenal to Fight Them; Fernanda Lessa, M.D., U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Ghinwa Dumyati, M.D., associate professor, medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York; Jason Kessler, M.D., clinical fellow, division of infectious diseases, Columbia University; Oct. 30, 2009, presentations, Infectious Diseases Society of America annual meeting, Philadelphia

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