Can Your Sore Throat Create Superbugs?

Can Your Sore Throat Create Superbugs?

(NewsUSA) - When your throat hurts, you go to the doctor, pick up a prescription and pop a few pills -- but could this routine create "superbugs"?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many bacteria are developing resistance to common antibiotics. For example, several strains of group A streptococcus, the bacterium that causes strep throat, have become resistant to macrolides, a class of antibiotics including erythromycin and azithromycin. In a 2002 outbreak of strep throat at a Pittsburgh school, 48 percent of the group A strep bacteria found at the school were macrolide-resistant.
Bacteria become resistant when they are exposed to, but not killed by, antibiotics. This exposure can be caused by patients not finishing their medications as prescribed or taking the wrong class of antibiotics. For example, while strep has been known to resist macrolides, it has never demonstrated resistance against penicillin-class antibiotics.
Luckily, a new drug that the FDA has recently approved for the treatment of strep throat in patients 12 and older, Moxatag (www.moxatag.com), administers amoxicillin, a penicillin-class antibiotic, in a once-a-day formulation. Patients are more likely to take the medication correctly -- a 2006 study from the Medical University of Lodz in Poland found much better patient compliance with once-daily rather than twice-daily antibiotics. In using amoxicillin, patients reduce strep's exposure to macrolides, helping to keep more strep bacteria from developing resistance.
Superbugs can also develop when antibiotics are taken when they are not needed -- which happens more than you might think. According to a 2001 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 73 percent of adults who went to their doctors for sore throat received antibiotics, but only 5 to 17 percent of those sore throats were caused by bacterial infection. Never take antibiotics for a sore throat unless a throat culture tests positive for bacterial infection.