Are over the counter antibiotic creams contributing to the spread of flesh eating bacteria?


Look in almost any medicine cabinet in America and you will more then likely find at least one type of over the counter antibiotic cream to be used whenever a cut or  a scrape rears its ugly head to stave off infection but what if instead of helping to keep the knees and elbows of millions of kids healthy these creams were actually contributing to the development of a drug resistant flesh eating bacteria?

An article published on September 15. 2011 at MSNBC.com tells us of a study which asks is “Flesh-eating Bacteria’s Rise Tied to Antibiotic Cream?”

According to the article Japanese researchers looked at 261 samples of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSAs  known for their links with necrotizing fasciitis which is also known as flesh eating disease. The study included a strain known as USA300 that has gained widespread attention.

Researchers found that while other strains of MRSA were often susceptible to a combination of the antibiotics bactracin and neomycin only the USA300 strain was resistant to both. Bactracin and neomycin are the active ingredients found in most over the counter antibiotic creams. They findings suggest that an overuse of these products may be to blame for USA300’s resistence.

"People should understand that triple antibiotic [ointment] is not almighty, and avoid preventive or excessive use of this ointment," said study author Masahiro Suzuki, a bacteriologist at the Aichi Prefectural Institute of Public Health in Nagoya, Japan.

USA300 is becoming a widespread problem.

"Over the past decade or so, it's really emerged as the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections in the community," said Dr. Henry Blumberg, a professor of infectious disease at Emory University who has studied USA300 at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

The question of whether antibacterial creams have contributed to the problem remains unanswered as far as Blumburg is concerned though.

"They have a theory that use of topical, over-the-counter creams and antibiotics select this USA300 clone and that's why it's emerged," Blumberg said. "They haven't proved it."

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