Seasonally prescribing antibiotics on a large-scale can build resistance for some pathogens, and hospitals can only successfully fight that resistance when they coordinate a community-wide campaign, according to a Princeton University study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Researchers studied retail pharmacy data from more than 300 laboratories from 1999-2007 and found that in nearly all cases there was a one month lag between peak seasonal prescription levels of five antibiotics and the prevalence of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus and E. coli bacteria.
The results also suggest that seasonal surges in antibiotic use are linked with short-term, large-scale changes in resistance, the study says.
The association between respiratory infections and antibiotic prescriptions "suggests that reducing the incidence of influenza through vaccination efforts" could help decrease over-prescription of antibiotic medicines and "reduce the annual increase in antibiotic-resistant infections," the study says.
Moreover, there is a geographical link between where these prescriptions were filled on a large-scale and a surge in nearby hospitals treating patients for resistant strains of pathogens—the antibiotic use of a community can have "significant consequences for resistance" of the local hospitals and clinics (Robeznieks, Modern Healthcare, 7/2 [subscription required]).