Foot infections are among the most serious complications of diabetes, and a leading cause of diabetes-related hospitalizations. The infections typically occur when pathogens--usually gram-positive bacteria--infect foot ulcers. These sores develop because of diabetes-related nerve damage and loss of feeling in the feet. Amputation may be needed when infections fail to respond to therapy. People with diabetes account for about two-thirds of the 134,000 lower-limb amputations performed each year in the United States.
"The complication of diabetes that patients fear most is leg amputation, and infection is often the final pathway that leads to this tragic, if often preventable, outcome," said lead author Benjamin A. Lipsky, director of the General Internal Medicine and Antibiotic Research clinics at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.
Linezolid, sold as Zyvox (Pfizer, Inc.), was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000 to treat a variety of infections, including some caused by bacteria resistant to the drug methicillin. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has become a major cause of infections--including diabetic foot infections--both in hospitals and communities. For years the antibiotic vancomycin had been a last line of defense against infections caused by MRSA
Contact: Jeri Rowe
VA Research Communications Service