Antibiotic resistance genes might be maintained by selection pressures different from those which are responsible for initially selecting resistant bacteria. This possibility was suggested from a comparison of oral commensal streptococci isolated from healthy people not taking antibiotics. Resistance frequencies were similar for organisms from Mexico and Cuba despite significant differences in antibiotic usage in these two countries. Resistance to > or = 4 drugs was far more common in Mexico, the only detectable trend that can be related to the higher use of antibiotics in Mexico. If resistance is not uniquely maintained by antibiotics, then other environmental factors must also be at work. These need to be identified if a strategy to control antibiotic resistance is to be successful.
Copyright 2002 Federation of European Microbiological Societies