The rise of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria is among the greatest emerging public health problems. Resistance, acquired by bacteria through natural selection, has been accelerated by the improper use of antibiotics. Because such strains can be resistant to even newer, more powerful compounds, their infections are associated both with higher disease and death rates and with greater economic tolls on health care systems.
A 2008 study by researches at Harvard Medical School, University of Miami and the University of Le Havre in France, “The Impact of Different Antibiotic Regimens on the Emergence of Antimicrobial-Resistant Bacteria,” analyzed the emergence of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria associated with different antibiotic regimens. The study was published in PLoS ONE, a peer-reviewed, open-access online publication.
The study’s findings include:
- Shorter durations of antibiotic therapy (fewer than six days), or early one-day interruptions to antibiotic therapy, promoted the emergence of these resistant strains.
- Combining two separate antibiotics helped to prevent the emergence of resistant strains, more so than compared with changing the delivery method from an intravenous administration of one antibiotic to oral administration of the same antibiotic.
- Early initiation of antibiotics is among the most important factors preventing the emergence of resistant strains.
The researchers suggest that actions by physicians when prescribing antibiotics may be able to have a real tempering impact on the emergence of such bacteria.
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