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Ear Infections Resist Common Antibiotics  

Stanford University researchers have documented the first cases of chronic ear infections with antibiotic-resistant strep.

"It has been known that this pathogen was present in acute cases of otitis media.... but this is the first study to isolate cases in children with chronic ear effusions (fluid)," said Dr. Patrick Fitzgerald, who presented his findings yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in San Francisco.

In the study, Fitzgerald and his colleagues examined discharge from the middle ears of 49 young children who had chronic otitis media, or chronic middle ear infections.

hey found that 23 of the 49 contained bacteria. Five of those were streptococcus pneumoniae; two of those were resistant to penicillin and most other antibiotics commonly used to treat otitis media.

If untreated, chronic otitis media can lead to hearing loss and delayed speech

Streptococcus pneumoniae is the leading cause of bacterial pneumonia, necrotizing fasciitis (the so-called flesh-eating bacteria) and strep throat, as well as middle ear infections. Fitzgerald said there are about 7 million cases of acute middle ear infections each year in the United States, about 2 million to 3 million of which are caused by streptococcus pneumoniae.

Reports have found as many as one-quarter of acute strep infections resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics.

SF Chronicle - page # A18 , Septemper 11, 1997

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