Sep. 19, 2000 TORONTO - Sept. 16, 2000 - Many parents regard occasional minor illnesses as the most likely health risks posed by day care centers. However, according to data presented today during Global Resistance Day, a more insidious danger lurks in these facilities: they serve as incubators for antibiotic-resistance respiratory tract bacteria.
Sampling Streptococcus pneumoniae ("strep" bacteria) from day care attendees, Dr. Ron Dagan of Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, Israel, and colleagues found that antibiotic treatment rapidly induced resistant-antibiotic traits among these bacteria in the noses and throats of children in the day care environment.
"Day care centers act as microenvironments that facilitate and promote selection, spread and transmission of antibiotic-resistant respiratory tract organisms in the community and should be seen as major targets for intervention," Dagan said.
The 2-year study involved eight day-care centers in Beer-Sheva and 240 toddlers and 46 of their siblings.
Within individual day-care centers, resistant strains were similar, in contrast to the variability seen in resistant strains among the different centers, suggesting that each day care center is its own microenvironment. Moreover, the researchers detected the same resistant S. pneumoniae strains in siblings of attendees, suggesting that resistance could easily spread beyond the confines of the center.
Day care centers are ideal environments for the development of such resistance because they are associated with a high rate of respiratory infections that leads to a high rate of antibiotic use, he said. In addition, they also bring together infants and toddlers whose hygiene standards are not yet developed, he noted.
Dagan presented the findings at Global Resistance Day, a gathering of internationally renowned scientists to address the impact of antimicrobial resistance worldwide, organized by the American Society for Microbiology and other infectious disease organizations.
Global Resistance Day was held in conjunction with the 40th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC), Sept. 17-20 in Toronto. For more information on scientific presentations at ICAAC, see the online press kit at http://www.asmusa.org/pcsrc/40icaac/presskit.htm.
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