Bacteria Becoming Increasingly Resistant To Antibiotics, But New Vaccines Are On The Horizon

year was 1.7 percent. In the second year, it became 5 percent. In the third year, it jumped to 15 percent. In other words, resistance to ceftriaxone tripled between the second and the third year of the study."

The rapid increase in resistance is also obvious when looking at the recent history of penicillin use. For example, 27 percent of the pneumococci were not susceptible to penicillin in the final year of this study, 1996. That compares to 0.02 percent reported less than a decade ago, according to Dr. Arditi.

Many "varieties," or serological types, of pneumococci exist. The bacteria can cause pneumonia and many other infections, such as sinusitis and infection of the middle ear. In fact, they are the most common cause of acute middle ear infections and invasive bacterial infections -- including pneumonia and meningitis -- in children, according to Dr.Arditi. They also cause more than 500,000 cases of pneumonia in adults and children each year, and are one of the most common causes of bacterial meningitis in young children, resulting in approximately 5,000 cases of meningitis each year.

This study focused specifically on children with pneumococcal meningitis and is likely the largest study of its kind. Bacterial meningitis -- a bacterial infection of the meninges, the membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord -- can cause death or permanent neurologic damage. In fact, of the 180 children in this study, 14 died. Of those who survived, 25 percent developed neurologic problems and 32 percent suffered moderate to severe hearing loss.

The study of pneumococcal meningitis was part of a larger study of pneumococcal infections among children in general. Those results were published in the September 1998 issue of Pediatrics. The research was conducted at eight children's hospitals in the United States and looked at 1,291 episodes of invasive pneumococcal infection in 1,255 children.

"In the past several years in the U

Contact: Sandra Van
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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