Scientists Dr. Herman Goossens and colleagues working for the University of Antwerp, in Belgium claim results of a study that 'clearly defines' the link between continued use of antibiotics and the development of 'superbugs' such as MRSA and VRSA due to antibiotic resistance.
It has always be known that bacteria and other microorganisms develop resistance to antibiotics due to continued exposure to them- as a result of patients being treated with antibiotics for infections. Yet this study published in The Lancet provides seemingly conclusive proof of this.
Goossens and his team analysed the use of macrolide antibiotics which are widely used drugs in the treatment of ear, throat and lung infections.
The scientists, compared two macrolide antibiotics - clarithromycin and azithromycin - against a placebo, or dummy pill, on more than 200 healthy volunteers.
Pharyngeal swabs taken at 28 days, 42 days and 180 days after treatment showed more than the majority of streptococci in their mouths were resistant to macrolides even at 180 days, a result which 'staggered'the scientists.
Goossens says he and his co-authors assumed that if they followed the subjects in their study for six months they would see the rates of resistant bacteria in participants' mouths return to normal levels, yet that did not happen.
Stephanie Dancer of Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, says the scientists should be commended for their careful approach as "We now have strengthened evidence for the links between antibiotic use and resistance."
"It should serve as a wake up call for individual prescribing physicians, nurse practitioners, midwives, dentists and others that inappropriate use of antibiotics does have consequences," says Dr. John Conly, former chair of the Canadian Committee on Antibiotic Resistance and head of the department of medicine at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.
This study is bound to provide much encouragement to infection control experts who have been campaigning for years to get doctors to cut back on antibiotic use, out of a fear that resistance is increasing at such a rate as to threaten the continued usefulness of these drugs and that yet more 'superbugs' will be created.