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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2002 Jul;50(7 Suppl):S226-9.

Antimicrobial resistance and aging: beginning of the end of the antibiotic era?

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Department of Internal Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, California, USA.


Throughout the history of mankind, infectious diseases have remained a major cause of death and disability. Although industrialized nations, such as the United States, have experienced significant reductions in infection-related mortality and morbidity since the beginning of the "antibiotic era," death and complications from infectious diseases remain a serious problem for older persons. Pneumonia is the major infection-related cause of death in older persons, and urinary tract infection is the most common bacterial infection seen in geriatric patients. Other serious and common infections in older people include intra-abdominal sepsis, bacterial meningitis, infective endocarditis, infected pressure ulcers, septic arthritis, tuberculosis, and herpes zoster. As a consequence, frequent prescribing of antibiotics for older patients is common practice. The large volume of antibiotics prescribed has contributed to the emergence of highly resistant pathogens among geriatric patients, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, penicillin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae, vancomycin-resistant enterococci, and multiple-drug-resistant gram-negative bacilli. Unless preventive strategies coupled with newer drug development are established soon, eventually clinicians will be encountering infections caused by highly resistant pathogens for which no effective antibiotics will be available. Clinicians could then be experiencing the same frustrations of not being able to treat infections effectively as were seen in the "pre-antibiotic era."

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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