Monday, March 24, 2014

Serious Resistant Infections Increasingly Found in Children

Wired - Here’s some disturbing news published late last week in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society by a team of researchers from two Chicago medical institutions plus an expert analyst of antibiotic resistance: Serious drug-resistant infections in children are rising across the United States. While the rate of their occurrence remains low overall, they nonetheless increased two- to three-fold over 10 years.

The group plumbed a national database of disease-causing bacteria retrieved from child patients who were treated in intensive-care units, regular hospital wards, and outpatient clinics between the beginning of 1999 and the end of 2011, looking for a particular pattern of resistance. That pattern, known as ESBL for short (for extended-spectrum beta-lactamase), indicates that bacteria no longer respond to a wide array of common antibiotics: any chemical relative of penicillin, and any of the cephalosporins. Bacteria that are ESBL-resistant respond to only a few remaining big-gun drugs, notably a small family of drugs — already under pressure from other resistance factors — known as the carbapenems. ESBL resistance is a particular concern because it tends to occur in gut bacteria such as E. coli; bacteria that have picked up that resistance DNA can be carried around undetected in the intestines and then cause a surprise infection later. Plus, some of that resistance DNA resides on plasmids, small loops of genetic code that transfer easily from one bacterium to another.   Read More