Background: Despite concerns that antimicrobial treatment of prevalent infections may select for drug-resistant bacteria, the effects of antimicrobial treatment on colonization dynamics have not been well quantified.
Methods: We measured impacts of antimicrobial treatment on nasopharyngeal carriage of penicillin-susceptible Streptococcus pneumoniae (PSSP) and penicillin-nonsusceptible (PNSP) lineages at the end of treatment and 15, 30, and 60 days after treatment in a previously conducted randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial of amoxicillin-clavulanate for stringently defined acute otitis media.
Results: In intention-to-treat analyses, immediate treatment with amoxicillin-clavulanate reduced PSSP carriage prevalence by 88% (95% confidence interval [CI], 76%-96%) at the end of treatment and by 27% (-3%-49%) after 60 days but did not alter PNSP carriage prevalence. By the end of treatment, 7% of children who carried PSSP at enrollment remained colonized in the amoxicillin-clavulanate arm, compared with 61% of PSSP carriers who received placebo; impacts of amoxicillin-clavulanate persisted at least 60 days after treatment among children who carried PSSP at enrollment. Amoxicillin-clavulanate therapy reduced PSSP acquisition by >80% over 15 days. Among children who carried PNSP at enrollment, no impacts on carriage prevalence of S. pneumoniae, PSSP, or PNSP were evident at follow-up visits.
Conclusions: Although the absolute risk of carrying PNSP was unaffected by treatment, antimicrobial therapy conferred a selective impact on colonizing pneumococci by accelerating clearance and delaying acquisition of PSSP.