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article imageStreptococcus pneumoniae 19A Found At Sick Kids

By KJ Mullins     Nov 8, 2007 in Health
The superbug Streptococcus pneumoniae 19A that causes ear infections has lead to a child having meningitis at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital. The antibiotic-resistant bacteria is not part of what is covered in the vaccine called Prevnar.
While the United States tracks cases of Streptococcus pneumoniae 19A Canada has not started the practice.
The Ministry of Health may soon be asking for doctors to report ear infections that do not respond to antibiotics. The ear infections may be linked to the superbug. Streptococcus pneumonia has been in Canada for a while causing hundreds of chest and throat infections and ear infections. In rare cases it is also the cause of pneumonia and meningitis. All of these illnesses can generally be treated with antibiotics. The subtype of 19A though does not respond to any antibiotic that has been approved of for children. It does seem to respond though to powerful drugs reserved for adults.
In October, Dr. Michael Pichichero published a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, describing his experience with the 19A superbug. The highlights of that report:
* He tried 18 antibiotics approved in the U.S. for children.
* In the end, the only drug that worked was levofloxacin, (also called Levaquin), which is approved for adults and is not recommended for children.
* For one child, the cure came too late, because the infection led to permanent hearing loss.
Since the use of the Prevnar vaccine pneumonia and meningitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae has fallen by at least 69 per cent as well as the more difficult ear infections that can bother some children. The vaccine makers are now trying to include the new "superbug" strain into the vaccine.
Some Superbugs have been created in modern times because of improper use of antibiotics. When the medicine is not taken for a full schedule remaining bacteria can evolve so that the next time the drug in introduced to the cells they ignore it.
Also the overuse of drugs to treat childhood ear infections may be behind some of these resistant bacteria. A good rule of thumb is now unless an ear infection lasts for a prolonged period to let nature take it's course. Instead of asking your child's doctor for medicine when they have a cold ask for ways to reduce discomfort.
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