Background: Nasopharyngeal (NP) carriage of antibiotic-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae was shown to be associated with recent antibiotic treatment. To date no studies have evaluated early dynamics of pneumococcal NP carriage during antibiotic treatment.
Objectives: To observe changes in NP pneumococcal carriage within 3 to 4 days after initiation of antibiotic treatment in acute otitis media (AOM).
Methods: Patients ages 3 to 36 months with AOM treated with various antibiotics were prospectively followed. Nasopharyngeal culture for S. pneumoniae was obtained before (Day 1) and 72 to 96 h after initiation of treatment (Days 4 to 5). Antibiogram and serotyping were performed in all isolates as was also the MIC of penicillin. The disappearance and persistence of the initial isolates as well as the appearance of isolates with new serotype or with new antibiotic susceptibility patterns were investigated.
Results: A total of 120 patients were studied: 106 received beta-lactam antibiotics and 14 received azithromycin. Among the initial 76 pneumococcal isolates 63, 37 and 13% were resistant to > or =1, > or =2 and > or =3 antibiotic drugs. After 3 to 4 days of treatment with various beta-lactam drugs, 45, 63 and 100% of isolates with MIC values of <0.1 microg/ml, 0.125 to 0.25 microg/ml and 0.38 to 1.0 microg/ml, respectively, persisted in the NP (P = 0.038). There was a difference between the various beta-lactam drugs in their effect on NP colonization: a drug with lower MIC values (cefuroxime-axetil) had a better eradication rate of penicillin-susceptible organisms than a less active one (cefaclor), but neither significantly reduced carriage of penicillin nonsusceptible isolates. Azithromycin eliminated carriage of macrolide-susceptible organisms but increased the carriage of macrolide-resistant ones. In 19 of 120 (16%) patients a new S. pneumoniae isolate was recovered 3 to 4 days after initiation of treatment. Of those 16 (84%) were resistant to the drug the patient was receiving.
Conclusion: A rapid selection of nonsusceptible NP pneumococcal isolates during antibiotic treatment for AOM is common. This phenomenon may contribute to the spread of resistant pneumococci.