SEARCH

Entries in Antibiotics (19)

Tuesday
Nov132012

New Study Reveals US Misconceptions About Antibiotics

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- More than half of Americans know that taking antibiotics when they are not needed can endanger their own health, but less than half know that this situation can negatively impact others as well.

The finding is from a new study done by the Centers for Disease Control and the Pew Charitable Trusts to gauge the public's knowledge of proper antibiotic use.

"[Overuse of antibiotics] can encourage the growth of resistant bacteria," said Allan Coukell, a pharmacist and Director of Medical Programs at Pew. "Superbugs are emerging faster than new drugs to fight them."

The overuse of antibiotics could be attributed to the public's misperception of their effectiveness. The study showed that almost 9 out of 10 Americans know that antibiotics can help cure bacterial infections such as strep throat, but more than a third incorrectly believe that the drugs are also good for the common cold.

“We’re encouraged that most Americans understand that antibiotics are effective treatment for bacterial infections,” said Lauri Hicks, Medical Director of the CDC’s "Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work" program. “But...antibiotic-resistant infections will claim increasing numbers of lives unless we do more to ensure all Americans take these life-saving drugs only when they are needed and as directed by their doctors.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug242012

Health Officials Keeping Close Watch on Antibiotic-Resistant Superbug

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Health officials are warning of a new disease that could be this generation's version of AIDS, an infection that is resistant to virtually all antibiotics.

News of the superbug known as Klebsiella pneumoniae came out earlier in the week when it was revealed that six people died from bloodstream infections at the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center in 2011 despite all efforts to contain the bacteria.

Those who died were cancer patients, people on anti-rejection drugs after organ transplants or suffering from genetic disorders.

Nonetheless, Tara Palmore, an infection control specialist at the Bethesda hospital, admitted the bacteria were "the proverbial superbug that we’ve all worried about for a long time."

Doctor Sarah Browne of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, led a new study on the disease and says "the similarity to AIDS is that it is an immuno deficiency syndrome so patients have a compromised immune system, but the underlying cause of this immune deficiency syndrome is completely different."

While no one is saying that it has ability to spread around the world like AIDS, Browne acknowledges that the superbug's ability to repel antibiotics is cause for concern.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug212012

Study: Antibiotics Too Soon May Set Babies Up for Obesity

altrendo images/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Giving your baby antibiotics too early may increase their chances of being overweight in childhood, new research suggests.

Specifically, infants exposed to antibiotics during the first six months of their lives are 22 percent more likely to be overweight between the ages of 10 months and 3 years -- though their weight tends to return to average by the time they are 7 -- according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity on Tuesday.

This effect on the child's body mass appears to be dependent upon the timing of the antibiotics.  The exposure to antibiotics later in childhood -- while the child is between 6 months and 3 years old -- is not associated with increased body mass.

Researchers say the reason for the weight gain could be that antibiotics at this tender age may change the delicate balance of bacteria in infants' digestive tracts.

"Unnecessary antibiotic use can disrupt healthy bacteria that live in our intestine," said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, primary study author and associate professor in pediatrics at New York University.  "If we have a disruption in the microbes in this gut, it can lead to over-absorption of calories and obesity."

The study sample included 11,532 children from the United Kingdom whose parents agreed to the study before the babies were born.  Researchers checked the height, weight and antibiotics use of these children at birth, and then after approximately 7 weeks, 10 months, 20 months, 38 months and 7 years.

The researchers also took into account other factors, such as the weight of a baby's parents, whether the mother smoked while pregnant, the parents' socioeconomic status and what the baby ate.  Even when they did this, though, the relationship between antibiotic use in these infants and their weight gain remained.

"This will affect our thinking about the obesity epidemic," Trasande said.  "This study suggests the need to shift the paradigm from thinking simply about diet and exercise to other environmental exposures."

Physicians were quick to note that this study does not mean that antibiotics should not be used in these infants when they are clearly needed.  However, doctors said that all too often, antibiotics are used inappropriately -- and this practice can have real consequences for babies' health.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May172012

FDA Investigating Z-Pak Antibiotic Linked to Heart Risks

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating the antibiotic azithromycin, commonly known as Z-Pak, after a study linked the drug to an increased risk of death.

The study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, found patients prescribed Z-Pak were more likely to die than those prescribed amoxicillin, another antibiotic. The results were especially pronounced for those who died of heart attacks, strokes, sudden cardiac death and other cardiovascular causes.

Last year, doctors wrote 55.3 million prescriptions for Z-Pak, according to IMS Health. Like the popular antibiotic amoxicillin, azithromycin is commonly prescribed to help fight off bacterial infections. But while they are often prescribed for similar conditions, the two drugs work differently from each other.

Wayne Ray, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University and lead author of the study, says he believes many doctors prescribe azithromycin instead of amoxicillin because of its easier regimen; patients on azithromycin take fewer pills over fewer days, which means they are more likely to finish their entire course of medicine. Finishing the entire course not only leads to more effective treatment, but it also lessens the risk of the patient developing a drug-resistant bug.

But, Ray says of azithromycin, “the risk of death may outweigh convenience and compliance, at least for high-risk patients.”

These high-risk patients would seem to be those who have certain types of cardiovascular disease. Some doctors have suggested that azithromycin may cause irregular heartbeats known as arrhythmias, which in some people can lead to death. In Ray’s study, which looked at Medicaid patients from 1992 to 2006 and analyzed millions of prescriptions, he and his colleagues found that patients on azithromycin had two and a half times the odds of dying from a cardiovascular cause while taking their medication than did patients on amoxicillin. The gap was widest when looking at the 10 percent of patients with the worst cardiovascular disease.

The study couldn’t tease out which patients were on azithromycin because they had allergies to amoxicillin.

Cardiologist Leonard Ilkhanoff, director of the Inherited Arrhythmia Program at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, says that while it’s impossible to know what precisely is causing the increased risk of death, the study is very interesting. But he cautions that patients on azithromycin should not panic.

The FDA currently recommends that patients taking azithromycin continue to take the drug.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May162012

Z-Pak Antibiotic Raises Death Risk for Some, Says Study

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Patients prescribed the antibiotic azithromycin are more likely to die than those prescribed a different antibiotic, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday. These results were especially pronounced for those who died from heart attacks, strokes, sudden cardiac death and other cardiovascular causes.

Azithromycin, commonly known by the trade name Z-Pak, is prescribed to almost 50 million Americans every year. Like the popular antibiotic amoxicillin, azithromycin is commonly prescribed to help fight off bacterial infections. But while they are often prescribed for similar conditions, the two drugs work differently from one another.

Wayne Ray, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tenn., and lead author of the study, says he thinks many doctors prescribe azithromycin instead of amoxicillin because of its easier regimen; patients on azithromycin take fewer pills over fewer days, which means they are more likely to finish their entire course of medicine. Finishing the entire course not only leads to more effective treatment, but it also lessens the risk of the patient developing a drug-resistant bug.

But, Ray says of azithromycin, “the risk of death may outweigh convenience and compliance, at least for high-risk patients.”

These high-risk patients would seem to be those who have certain types of cardiovascular disease. Some doctors have suggested that azithromycin may cause irregular heartbeats known as arrhythmias, which in some people can lead to death. In Ray’s study, which looked at Medicaid patients from 1992 to 2006 and analyzed millions of prescriptions, he and his colleagues found that patients on azithromycin had two and a half times the odds of dying from a cardiovascular cause while taking their medication than did patients on amoxicillin. The gap was widest when looking at the 10 percent of patients with the worst cardiovascular disease.

The study wasn’t able to tease out which patients were on azithromycin because they had allergies to amoxicillin.

Cardiologist Leonard Ilkhanoff, director of the Inherited Arrhythmia Program at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago, says that while it’s impossible to know what precisely is causing the increased risk of death, the study is very interesting. But he cautions that patients on azithromycin should not panic.

“Patients shouldn’t be thinking, ‘If I’m on azithromycin, I’m going to die,’” he says, adding that sometimes azithromycin really is the proper antibiotic for a patient.

“It’s appropriate, though, to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May152012

How Cheap Meat Practices Beef Up Superbugs Like MRSA

Simon Sparrow, 1, died from a MRSA infection in 2004. His mother has since been on a mission to raise awareness of superbugs. (Everly Macario)(WASHINGTON) -- As 1½-year-old Simon Sparrow lay dying in a hospital in April 2004, doctors were perplexed as to what was causing his illness.

"None of the health care professionals at the University of Chicago had any clue as to why he died," Simon's mother, Everly Macario, recalls. "From the moment he got strange symptoms to when he died was 24 hours."

Tests following Simon's death revealed that he'd succumbed to an overwhelming infection caused by a highly antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria known as methicilliin-resistant Staph aureus, or MRSA. Despite having a doctorate in public health from Harvard, Macario had never heard of MRSA or its potentially deadly consequences.

Since her son's death, Macario has made it her mission to raise awareness of these deadly infections. On Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Macario joined a group of concerned mothers, health care providers, farmers and chefs in a roundtable meeting to raise awareness of the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The "Supermoms Against Superbugs" event, co-sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, is meant to raise awareness of the link between antibiotic overuse in farm animals and an increase in antibiotic-resistant "superbug" infections in humans.

MRSA is among a growing number of bacterial strains that are highly resistant to antibiotics and are very difficult to treat when they cause serious infections. According to infectious disease experts, the increase in the number of superbugs over the past three decades comes from the overuse of antibiotics -- not only in humans but also in farm animals. All told, livestock consume nearly 25 million pounds of antibiotics versus the three million pounds used in humans each year, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

And an estimated 70 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are given to healthy farm animals -- not to treat disease but to promote animal growth, allow animals to live closer together and decrease the amount of time it takes to raise an animal and send it to market.

Superbugs can be the unfortunate side effect of this process. When farm animals eat the antibiotics placed in their food, it exposes the bacteria that live in their gut and skin to low levels of the drug. Some of these bugs survive this low-level assault and go on to develop resistance to the antibiotics. The resistant superbugs can then spread to humans either by direct contact with farm animals or by eating contaminated meat from the animals.

Once superbugs such as MRSA, E. coli and salmonella escape the farm, they can spread their antibiotic resistance to other bacteria that also cause infections in humans.

Dr. James Johnson, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota, says this is a big problem.

"Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness against bacteria," Johnson says. "New antibiotics are not being developed at a fast enough rate, and we have fewer treatment options for infected patients."

Superbugs can cause a variety of diseases in humans, including urinary tract infections, blood stream infections, meningitis and pneumonia. The most vulnerable patients tend to be the very young, chronically ill, hospitalized patients and the elderly.

Johnson says that despite the increase in the number of superbugs, infection tends to be a "somewhat uncommon occurrence." When it does occur, however, the infection is "more difficult to treat, more costly and more likely to lead to death in severe cases."

As the superbug threat grows, lawmakers and experts alike say the solution to the problem is clear -- but not necessarily easy to get going.

One approach, doctors say, is to reduce antibiotic use in both humans and animals -- essentially using them only to treat disease, rather than for disease prevention. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., who is also the only microbiologist in Congress, has in recent years introduced legislation that would regulate antibiotic use in animal feed. So far, this bill has not passed into law.

Proponents of feeding antibiotics to healthy livestock argue, however, that the process is necessary to ensure animal health and to maintain efficiency. Eliminating antibiotics from feed would decrease the number of animals meat producers can raise, and so increase meat prices.

Data from the National Research Council estimates that a ban on antibiotic use in animal feed would cost a family of four an additional 34 to 75 cents per week for meat. Critics, on the other hand, cite the total cost to U.S. households from superbug infections. According to a news release from the advocacy group Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, these costs amount to $35 billion when factoring in lost wages, hospital stays and premature deaths nationwide.

Macario says there is a solution to the problem of increased antibiotic resistance. "I want to make sure that people don't shut down or feel like the world is going to end. Not all issues are solvable, but this one is."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr052012

Antibiotics May Be Safe Alternative to Appendectomies, Study Finds

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NOTTINGHAM, England) -- For patients who suffer from acute, uncomplicated appendicitis, physicians have considered surgery as the most reliable treatment since the late 1800s. Now, researchers report that treatment with antibiotics may be a safe alternative to surgery.

Dr. Dileep Lobo, professor of gastrointestinal surgery at the University of Nottingham and Queen's Medical Centre, said beginning antibiotic therapy soon after diagnosis is most important.

"Starting antibiotics when the diagnosis of uncomplicated acute appendicitis is made, with reassessment of the patient, will prevent the need for most appendectomies, reducing patient morbidity," he said.

Researchers led by Dr. Lobo analyzed the results of four randomized trials involving 900 adults with uncomplicated appendicitis.  A total of 470 patients received antibiotics, and 430 underwent surgery.  They found that 63 percent of those treated with antibiotics no longer needed further treatment after one year.  Thirty-one percent saw a reduction in complications compared to those treated with surgery, according to their analysis, published Thursday in the British Medical Journal.

But, Dr. Lobo noted, while correct diagnosis is key, rather than an early appendectomy, "for patients with clear signs of perforation or peritonitis (an inflammation of the abdominal wall), early appendectomy still remains the gold standard."

The researchers added that there were no significant differences in either length of hospital stay or risk of developing complicated appendicitis between the two groups of patients.

On the other hand, an accompanying editorial to the study, written by Dr. Olaf Bakker of the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, notes that while antibiotic treatment appears better than surgery, there is a 20-percent chance of recurrence within a year with antibiotic therapy.  Dr. Bakker wrote, "It is questionable whether a failure rate of 20 percent within one year is acceptable."

Until further study is completed, appendectomies will likely remain as the standard when treating appendicitis, Bakker said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar162012

WHO: Antibiotic Resistance Could Bring ‘End of Modern Medicine’

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(COPENHAGEN, Denmark) -- As bacteria evolve to evade antibiotics, common infections could become deadly, according to Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization.

Speaking at a conference in Copenhagen, Chan said antibiotic resistance could bring about “the end of modern medicine as we know it.”

“We are losing our first-line antimicrobials,” she said Wednesday in her keynote address at the conference on combating antimicrobial resistance.  “Replacement treatments are more costly, more toxic, need much longer durations of treatment, and may require treatment in intensive care units.”

Chan said hospitals have become “hotbeds for highly-resistant pathogens” like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, “increasing the risk that hospitalization kills instead of cures.”

Indeed, diseases that were once curable, such as tuberculosis, are becoming harder and more expensive to treat.

Chan said treatment of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis was “extremely complicated, typically requiring two years of medication with toxic and expensive medicines, some of which are in constant short supply.  Even with the best of care, only slightly more than 50 percent of these patients will be cured.”

Antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella, E. coli and gonorrhea have also been discovered.

“Some experts say we are moving back to the pre-antibiotic era.  No.  This will be a post-antibiotic era.  In terms of new replacement antibiotics, the pipeline is virtually dry,” said Chan.  “A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it.  Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill.”

The dearth of effective antibiotics could also make surgical procedures and certain cancer treatments risky or even impossible, Chan said.

“Some sophisticated interventions, like hip replacements, organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy and care of preterm infants, would become far more difficult or even too dangerous to undertake,” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb212012

Antibiotic-Resistant MRSA in Livestock May Spread to Humans

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Livestock in the United States may be building resistance to deadly bacterial infections, and those superbugs may be easily transferrable to humans, according to a new study published in the journal, mBio.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a strain of staph bacteria that does not respond to antibiotics used to treat staph infections. About two out of every 100 people carry this strain of staph, according to the National Institutes of Health, and infections can be minor to severe. The more severe infections occur most frequently in health care settings, according to the CDC, and they can quickly become life-threatening.

In 2003, scientists discovered a strain of the bacteria called ST398, and today, it can be found in pigs, turkeys, cattle and other livestock. The strain, which causes skin and respiratory infections, regularly infects people who handle the livestock.

Now the new genome analysis found that the MRSA strain found in livestock in 2003 likely came from an antibiotic sensitive strain of MRSA in humans.

"Most of the ancestral human strains were sensitive to antibiotics, whereas the livestock strains had acquired resistance on several independent occasions," Ross Fitzgerald in Center for Infectious Diseases at the University of Edinburgh, who reviewed the research, said in a press release.

Once the strain infected livestock, it likely changed into several different types, some of which are resistant to various antibiotics, said Fitzgerald, and it is now a two-way street.

"The overuse of antibiotics in food animals for growth promotion allows for various strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria," said Dr. Marcus Zervos, chief of infectious diseases at Henry Ford Health Systems in Detroit. "If we continue to use antibiotics in food animals, especially for unneeded reasons, the infections will become antibiotic resistant and make their way into people."

Zervos said about 20,000 Americans die each year due to MRSA complications, meaning there are more deaths related to the staph infection than AIDS each year.About 16,000 people in the United States die of AIDS each year, according to the CDC.

The use of antibiotic growth medication has expanded as the meat and livestock industry moved to more mass production. The drugs are added to animal feeds to help the animals grow larger for slaughter, lower the percentage of fat in the livestock and boost protein content. They are also meant to prevent bacteria, including E.coli, Salmonella and enterococci from developing in the animal, but the controversial practice promotes antibiotic resistant bacteria strains to form in the animals' internal systems.

Many experts agree that the United States should follow Europe's lead by banning the feeding of all antibiotics and other drugs in livestock to promote growth. On Jan. 1, 2006, the European Union prohibited such products to prevent antibiotic resistance in humans and in animals.

While bacteria like MRSA in meat is killed once it is cooked at high heat, experts said farm workers and other handlers of the livestock are most at risk of contracting the infection.

"It's pretty unlikely that someone would get MRSA after cooking the meat, but if you don't wash your hands thoroughly after handling the raw meat, there's potential to acquire MRSA," said Dr. William Schaffner, chief of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Schaffner said he believes there is little likelihood of contracting MRSA from eating meat, but the concern of antibiotic resistance in humans is of great concern, as nationwide sales of antibiotics for humans and animals continues to grow.

Experts said the excessive use of antibiotics in the United States to treat a wide variety of illnesses, including viruses -- which do not respond to antibiotics -- and the overuse of antibiotics in food products may cause continuing resistance to antibiotics.

"These findings are a result of inaction to do something to control antibiotic use in the food animals," Zervos said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb142012

Antibiotics Not Good for Sinus Infections, Study Finds

Hemera/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- Treating a common type of sinus infection called rhinosinusitus with the antibiotic amoxicillin won’t reduce symptoms any faster than a placebo will, according to research from Washington University in St. Louis published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Over the course of three years, 166 adults were randomized to receive either a 10-day course of amoxicillin or a placebo. After three days, both groups showed the same level of improvement, the study found. The researchers also found no difference in the number of  missed workdays, the level of treatment satisfaction and whether patients relapsed after treatment.  

Antibiotics are commonly used to sinus infections, even though the evidence supporting their effectiveness is limited.

“I think patients feel awful, and they want something to feel better quickly,” said Dr. Jane Garbutt, research associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.  “And physicians want to treat the patient.  Everyone is between a rock and a hard place.”

Antibiotics for sinusitis account for one in five antibiotic adult prescriptions in the United States.

But not all prescriptions for the medications are unnecessary. Some sinus infections are bacterial, and for them, antibiotics might help. But according to Garbutt, in many cases it can be difficult for doctors to distinguish whether infections are viral or bacterial.

“We need more studies to try to identify what helps treat infections and factors that help doctors identify which patients have the bacterial infection,” said Garbutt.  

But for now, Garbutt suggests ditching the meds, because you’re better off fighting off the infection on your own.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio