Antibiotics impact gut flora on a long term basis, state researchers of a new study.
The scientists say that short courses of antibiotics prescribed to treat pathogenic bacteria can leave normal gut bacteria harbouring antibiotic resistance genes for up to two years after treatment.
They also believe that this reservoir increases the chances of resistance genes being surrendered to pathogenic bacteria, aiding their survival and suggesting that the long-term effects of antibiotic therapy are more significant than previously thought.
Studies have shown that high levels of resistance genes can be detected in gut microbes after just 7 days of antibiotic treatment and that these genes remain present for up to two years even if the individual has taken no further antibiotics.
"The long-term presence of resistance genes in human gut bacteria dramatically increases the probability of them being transferred to and exploited by harmful bacteria that pass through the gut. This could reduce the success of future antibiotic treatments and potentially lead to new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria," said Cecilia Jernberg from the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control.
The review highlights the necessity of using antibiotics prudently.
"Antibiotic resistance is not a new problem and there is a growing battle with multi-drug resistant strains of pathogenic bacteria. The development of new antibiotics is slow and so we must use the effective drugs we have left with care," Jenberg added.
The study is published in the latest issue of journal Microbiology.