Australian hospitals should avoid prescribing expensive broad-spectrum antibiotics for pneumonia to avoid the development of more drug-resistant super bugs, according to a University of Melbourne study.
The study, by PhD researcher and Austin Health Infectious Diseases consultant, Dr Patrick Charles, shows that only 5 per cent of people admitted to hospital with community-acquired pneumonia had infections caused by organisms that could not be successfully treated with penicillin combined with an "atypical" antibiotic such as doxycycline or erythromycin.
In the world's largest study of its kind, Dr Charles studied almost 900 people admitted to six Australian hospitals over 28 months from 2004 to 2006.
Dr Charles' research analysed samples of blood, urine, sputum and viral swabs of the nose and throat taken from 885 patients at the Austin, Alfred, Monash and West Gippsland hospitals in Victoria, the Royal Perth Hospital and Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane.
He found that most cases of pneumonia were caused by easy to treat bacteria such as the pneumococcus or Mycoplasma, or alternatively by respiratory viruses that do not require antibiotic therapy.
Only five per cent of cases were caused by organisms that would require more expensive and broad-spectrum antibiotics, and these cases were nearly all in patients who'd had frequent hospital admissions or were residents of nursing homes.
"The study results show that current Australian guidelines for prescribing antibiotics for pneumonia are appropriate,'' Dr Charles said.
"It shows that Australian doctors should resist the push which is occurring in some parts of the world – particularly the US - to prescribe broad spectrum antibiotics to treat essentially all possible causes."
Dr Charles said the trend towards broad-spectrum antibiotics was being driven by laboratory-based studies of resistance rates in bacteria sent to the labs, rather than clinical studies of patients with pneumonia.
In the laboratory-based studies, the bacterial isolates often come from highly selected patients with more difficult to treat disease.
In addition, the fear of litigation made some doctors unnecessarily opt for more aggressive treatments.
However, the more frequently these broad-spectrum antibiotics were used, the more likely it was that bacteria would be become resistant to them.
"The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens is one of the biggest threats to Australian health care standards and is closely linked to the inappropriate use of antibiotics,'' Dr Charles said.
"By continuing to use more traditional antibiotics to treat most cases of pneumonia, Australian doctors can limit or delay the emergence of more resistant strains of bacteria.
"By using the broad-spectrum antibiotics less often, we can also prolong the effective lifespan of these drugs.
"Furthermore, in the US, Canada and some parts of Europe, they are seeing some serious complications which appear to be related to the overuse of some classes of broad-spectrum antibiotics that are frequently used there to treat respiratory infections."
Janine Sim-Jones | EurekAlert!
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
17.01.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
17.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.01.2018 | Awards Funding