Antibiotics for Early-Stage E. Coli Strain Cautioned



UNM HSC Part of NIH Study that Points to Kidney Failure Risk for Kids

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Administering antibiotics within one week of the onset ofE. colipredisposes children under 10 to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a dangerous disorder that destroys red blood cells injuring the kidneys, according to recent national study in which UNM’s Health Sciences Center participated.

The nine-and-a-half year study involving 259 children in five states showed that one in every four early stageE. coli O157:H7-infected children treated with antibiotics developed HUS. HUS is the most common cause of acute kidney failure in children and can be fatal.

The study involved several antibiotics and numerousE. colistrains. This higher HUS rate was observed across all antibiotic classes used.E. coli O157:H7is a pathogen that causes several thousand illnesses in the U.S. annually. Children are more likely than adults to develop symptoms of anE. coli O157:H7infection, and a severe form of kidney failure.

Most people with the infection experience severe stomach cramps, diarrhea – often becoming very bloody – nausea and vomiting. Some people who are infected with the bacteria do not notice any symptoms and can spread the bacteria to others without knowing it. This study focused on early management ofE. coliO157:H7 – within the first week of diarrhea. The HUS risk from antibiotics appears to be in the early course of the illness.

Because the study incorporated a large number of children analyzed; evaluated a wide diversity ofE. colistrains that infected the patients; and, most importantly, recruited participants while they were still ill, investigators have greater confidence in their conclusions.

“There are no known specific therapies for treating thisE. colistrain, but antibiotics are often prescribed,” relates Dr. Craig Wong with UNM School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, who performed this analysis, with his colleagues John Brandt and Amy Staples. “This research confirms that antibiotic use during anE. coliinfection should be avoided, along with infection control, and hydration”.

“Of course, primary prevention of infection, from the environment, food, or other infected individuals is key,” Wong adds.

The study, published recently inClinical Infectious Diseases, was part of a project led by Dr. Phillip Tarr, Department of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis, MO, with additional participation from Seattle Children’s Hospital.

For more information about the study, visit Look forRisk Factors forthe Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome in Children Infected withEscherichia coli O157:H7:a Multivariable Analysisin the March 19, 2012, section.

Contact: Luke Frank, 272-3322

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