Study Confirms Link Between Community Use of Antibiotics, Resistance

A new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases shows how seasonal changes in outpatient antibiotic use can significantly alter seasonal patterns of drug resistance.

To analyze prescribing patterns, the researchers relied on data collected from U.S. retail pharmacies from 1999 to 2007. Information about resistance came from a collection of test results from more than 300 laboratories. In nearly all cases analyzed, a one-month lag was found between high antibiotic prescription levels and the prevalence of resistant E. coli and S. aureus.


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The results demonstrate that highly seasonal temporal relationships exist between some combinations of prescriptions among five classes of antibiotics and resistance levels of two bacteria, Escherichia coli and MRSA. Specifically, resistant E. coli and MRSA were significantly correlated with lagged antibiotic prescriptions for drugs that were highly prescribed but uncorrelated with antibiotics that were not used as often.

The findings suggest that hospital campaigns to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use should be coordinated with efforts in the broader community if they are to be most effective.

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