Acute otitis media: management and surveillance in an era of pneumococcal resistance--a report from the Drug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae Therapeutic Working Group

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1999 Jan;18(1):1-9.


Objective: To provide recommendations [corrected] for the management of acute otitis media (AOM) and the surveillance of drug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae (DRSP). Five questions were addressed: (1) Can amoxicillin remain the best initial antimicrobial agent for treating AOM in the current period of increasing prevalence of DRSP? (2) What are suitable alternative agents for use if amoxicillin fails? (3) Should empiric treatment of AOM vary by geographic region? (4) Where can clinicians learn about resistance patterns in their patient populations? (5) What modifications to laboratory surveillance would improve the utility of the information for clinicians treating AOM?

Participants: Experts in the management of otitis media and the DRSP Therapeutic Working Group. This group was convened by the CDC to respond to changes in antimicrobial susceptibility among pneumococci and includes clinicians, academicians and public health practitioners.

Evidence: Published and unpublished data summarized from the scientific literature and experience from the experts present.

Process: [corrected] After group presentations and review of background materials, subgroup chairs prepared draft responses to the five questions, discussed the responses as a group and edited those responses [corrected].

Conclusions: Oral amoxicillin should remain the first line antimicrobial agent for treating AOM. In view of the increasing prevalence of DRSP, the safety of amoxicillin at higher than standard dosages and evidence that higher dosages of amoxicillin can achieve effective middle ear fluid concentrations, an increase in the dosage used for empiric treatment from 40 to 45 mg/kg/day to 80 to 90 mg/kg/day is recommended. For patients with clinically defined treatment failure after 3 days of therapy, useful alternative agents include oral amoxicillin-clavulanate, cefuroxime axetil and intramuscular ceftriaxone. Many of the 13 other Food and Drug Administration-approved otitis media drugs lack good evidence for efficacy against DRSP. Currently local surveillance data for pneumococcal resistance that are relevant for the clinical management of AOM are not available from most areas in the United States. Recommendations to improve surveillance include establishing criteria for setting susceptibility breakpoints for clinically appropriate antimicrobials to ensure relevance for treating AOM, testing middle ear fluid or nasal swab isolates in addition to sterile site isolates and testing of drugs that are useful in treating AOM. The management of otitis media has entered a new era with the development of DRSP. These recommendations are intended to provide a framework for appropriate clinical and public health responses to this problem.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Amoxicillin / administration & dosage
  • Amoxicillin / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple
  • Humans
  • Otitis Media / drug therapy
  • Otitis Media / epidemiology
  • Otitis Media / microbiology*
  • Penicillins / administration & dosage
  • Penicillins / therapeutic use*
  • Pneumococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Pneumococcal Infections / epidemiology
  • Pneumococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / drug effects*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • beta-Lactam Resistance


  • Penicillins
  • Amoxicillin