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Super bug threat to aged care, study says

Date

Peter Jean

Aged care homes could become ''reservoirs'' for super bugs unless over-prescription of antibiotics is curbed, according to the results of a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

The findings of the study will be published today along with a call for the establishment of a new organisation to manage the threat of antibiotic-resistant super bugs and an Australian Centre for Disease Control.

A study conducted at four Melbourne residential aged care facilities found more than two thirds of suspected infections that were treated with antibiotics did not meet the full criteria for clinical infection.

The researchers, led by Anton Peleg and David Kong, of Monash University, wrote that the emergence of multi-resistant ''super bug'' organisms in residential aged care facilities could result in the homes becoming, ''a reservoir for multiresistant organisms''.

In the same issue of the journal, three executive members of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases warned that Australia must be prepared for inevitable future epidemics and that antibiotic resistance was a looming issue for infectious disease management. The authors were the Sydney physician and microbiologist Thomas Gottlieb, Professor Bart Currie of the Menzies School of Health in Darwin and Brisbane physician and clinical microbiologist David Looke.

They wrote that a spiral of increasing broad-spectrum antibiotic use was occurring.

''The antibiotic paradox is that the more we use, the fewer effective drugs remain,'' they said.

''When this laxity with antibiotics is extended to non-medical use in food production and over-the-counter sales in some developing countries, the antibiotic paradox becomes a downward spiral. ''For the first time in the antibiotic era, we are encountering untreatable infections alongside an antimicrobial void.''

The Infectious Diseases Society recommended the establishment of a antimicrobial resistant management body and a new centre for disease control to coordinate preparation for, and responses to, national health crises.

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