- BOSTON (AP) -- Hundreds of thousands of Americans may get sick each
year with salmonella poisoning caused by a strain of the germ that is resistant
to five antibiotics.
- This strain has been a problem in Europe,
particularly Britain, for several years. But until recently it was rare
in the United States. It is suspected of causing even more severe illness
than ordinary salmonella.
- A study by the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention found that between 68,000 and 340,000 cases of infection
with this germ now occur annually in the United States. The estimate is
rough because most food poisoning cases caused by salmonella never get
- The CDC estimates that between 800,000
and 4 million people in all get sick with salmonella each year, and 500
- The highly resistant bug is impervious
to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, sulfonamides and tetracycline.
- Most salmonella cases do not need to
be treated with antibiotics. However, severe infections may require antibiotics,
and can still be controlled with ciprofloxacin or ceftriaxone, at least
for now. In Britain, salmonella immune to the five other drugs is also
becoming resistant to ciprofloxacin.
- Dr. M. Kathleen Glynn and others who
described the emergence of the drug-resistant salmonella emphasized the
need to use antibiotics prudently, especially on farms, where much bacterial
resistance to drugs is thought to have developed.
- The CDC report, published in Thursday's
issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, was based on an analysis
of data collected by local and state health departments since 1979.
- In an editorial, Dr. Stuart B. Levy of
Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston noted that nearly half of
the 50 million pounds of antibiotics produced in the United States annually
is used in animals. Most of this is intended to make animals grow faster
rather than to prevent or treat diseases.
- Experts believe that wide use of antibiotics
promotes the evolution of bugs that carry genes that allow them to withstand