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Study Examines Role of Seasonal Prescribing Changes in Antibiotic Resistance

A new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and available online shows how seasonal changes in outpatient antibiotic use – retail sales of antibiotics typically get a boost during the winter – can significantly alter seasonal patterns of drug resistance. The findings suggest that hospital campaigns to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use should be coordinated with efforts in the broader community if they are to be most effective.

Dr. Laxminarayan and his colleagues demonstrate that highly seasonal temporal relationships exist between some combinations of prescriptions among five classes of antibiotics (representing almost three-quarters of yearly antibiotic prescriptions) and resistance levels of two bacteria, Escherichia coli and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Specifically, resistant E. coli and MRSA were significantly correlated with lagged antibiotic prescriptions for drugs that were highly prescribed, but uncorrelated with antibiotics that were not used as often.

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