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Roughly one in three staph infections in the eye are resistant to antibiotics, according to the findings of a new study.
Researchers with the University of Tennessee and Bausch+Lomb found that 75% of eye staph infections which are methicillin resistant are also resistant to three or more other types of antibiotics, making it even more difficult for doctors to treat patients.
In a report published this month in the medical journal JAMA Ophthalmology, researchers outlined the findings of a cross-sectional study involving an ongoing, nationwide, prospective, laboratory-based surveillance trial, the Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring in Ocular Microorganisms (ARMOR) study, which includes more than 6,000 ocular isolates.
The isolates collected from the eye included staphylococcus aureus, coagulase-negative (CoNS) staphylococci, streptococcus pneumonia, pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Haemophilus influenza. The isolates were cultured from patients with eye infections from 2009 and 2018 at centers nationwide.
The data indicates methicillin resistance and multi-drug resistance are common among staph eye infections. According to the findings, more than one-third of staph eye infections were methicillin resistant and half of CoNS infections were methicillin resistant. If bacteria was methicillin resistant it was more likely to be resistant to other antibiotics.
“Antibiotic resistance may be prevalent among staphylococcal isolates, particularly among older patients” researchers wrote. “In this study, a few small differences in antibiotic resistance were observed by geographic region or longitudinally.”
Researchers indicated antibiotic resistance is common in staph eye infections. More than 75% of methicillin resistant staph infections were also resistant to multiple antibiotics, typically three or more classes of antibiotics.
The emergence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics is outpacing the development of new antibiotics to treat the new bacteria, health experts warn. So called “superbugs” and rare antibiotic resistant diseases are being detected more commonly in the U.S. and the world.
The new research also indicates antibiotic resistance profiles were mostly unchanged during the 10 year study period. This is largely because despite the known risks, doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics inappropriately for infections that cannot be treated with antibiotics.
According to the researchers in this latest study, their findings are important because antibiotic resistance in eye infections can complicate treatment.
Antibiotic-resistant infections cause more than 35,000 deaths in the United States each year and sicken nearly 3 million.