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Antibiotic resistance still growing

Media Release


Antibiotic resistance still growing

Some bacteria are becoming resistant to a number of antibiotics at a concerning rate, according to figures from ESR, Institute of Environmental Science and Research.

The figures were released by senior scientist, Helen Heffernan at the launch of the annual Wise Use of Antibiotics Campaign.

Ms Heffernan says the figures show that the problem of penicillin resistance when used against the pneumococcal bacterium has got 35 times worse in just 10 years.

Over this time, resistance has increased from 0.8 percent to 28 percent. The pneumococcal bug is the most common cause of infections like sinusitis, bronchitis and pneumonia.

She says resistance among this same bug to another antibiotic, erythromycin, has also increased dramatically and is now 21 percent.

The figures show that among the Haemophilus bacterium, which causes many chest and ear infections, amoxicillin resistance has nearly tripled and is now 23 percent.

Ms Heffernan says the ESR has also noted concern about growing resistance to fluoroquinolones, a new class of antibiotics. Against E.coli, the bacterium causing most urinary tract infections, resistance to these antibiotics has increased from 0.1 percent in the early 1990s to 3 percent.

The objective of the Wise Use of Antibiotics campaign is to remind New Zealanders to use these drugs responsibly. The PHARMAC-led campaign is being supported by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Plunket, the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand, doctors groups (IPAs) and PHOs around New Zealand.

[ends]

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