Researchers have confirmed that their studies on bacteria that bunch into tough biofilms are the cause for the widespread and persistent ear infections that irritate kids, which supports the idea that using antibiotics against these conditions is pointless.
Otitis media, a condition of middle-ear inflammation is the most common reason for children to visit doctor and or antibiotic prescriptions in the US alone. It was explained that some are cases of acute infections that clear up rapidly with a dose of antibiotics, but others persist for weeks or months, and doctors have often strived hard to try and find the exact cause as it is quite hard to extract and culture microbes from the ear.
Confirming that the bacteria are certainly to blame, they explained that these bacteria get clustered into biofilms that are almost not possible to be grown in the laboratory and are resistant to antibiotics. Joseph Kerschner, one of the lead researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee said, "We need to start thinking about ear infection in a different way." It was explained that the researchers had stated to suspect the role of biofilms on the chronic middle-ear infections more than a decade ago, when they had managed to remove traces of bacterial DNA from the ears of patients.
In order to prove their suspicion Kerschner and his colleagues had painstakingly collected minute samples of tissue from the ears of 26 children with either a recurring or a chronic ear infection. They then added stains that would help in drawing attention to several species of bacteria they pieced together three-dimensional images under the microscope.
The research team found that 92% of infected ears held biofilms that contained many different types of microbes, while samples that were taken from 8 healthy children and adults had shown no sign of biofilms. The researchers are publishing their results in today's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
They stated that this finding now reinforces the argument of prescribing antibiotics for chronic infection is not warranted, as some experienced doctors already know. The study suggests that the long-term ear infections are to be treated instead by surgically inserting a small tube that may help to disrupt the biofilm.
The researchers even seemed to suggest that it could even be possible that treating acute infections with antibiotics could aid in the survival of the microbes. Garth Ehrlich, at the Allegheny-Singer Research Institute in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, who co-authored the paper said, "It may push them to adopt a biofilm mode." It was also cautioned that the idea has not yet been extensively tested.
Researchers are now planning to investigate these infectious biofilms so as to find more effective treatments. Bill Costerton, says biofilm expert from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles explained that one of the ideas is to identify bacterium is probably causing the most inflammation that would target specific microbes or block them from forming biofilms.