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What Is Fluoroquinolone Resistance?

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  • Written By: L. Whitaker
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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Fluoroquinolone resistance is a term used in reference to the fact that certain types of bacteria no longer respond to treatment with fluoroquinolones, a class of antibiotic medications that includes ciprofloxacin. In some areas, there could be a high percentage of individuals for whom fluoroquinolone drugs are not effective against infectious diseases such as E. coli or salmonella. Some public health officials have urged the medical profession to use caution in prescribing certain drug combinations, due to concern about the potential development of tuberculosis strains that demonstrate fluoroquinolone resistance.

Drugs known as fluoroquinolones are among the most commonly used antibiotics, both in human and veterinary medicine. Some sources indicate widespread veterinary use of these medicines in European countries. Fluoroquinolone drugs such as ciprofloxacin are said to be particularly effective for treating certain types of tuberculosis in humans.

The rise of fluoroquinolone resistance worldwide is said to be attributed to inappropriate prescribing of this type of drug for less severe conditions such as otitis media, commonly known as an ear infection. In some cases, medical professionals might prescribe a fluoroquinolone drug for treatment of a viral infection, which would not respond to any antibiotic medication. Another common use that can lead to fluoroquinolone resistance is the treatment of community-acquired pneumonia with a drug like ciprofloxacin.

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For medical professionals who practice in areas believed to have high fluoroquinolone resistance, the standard of care is using caution when prescribing fluoroquinolones to any patient with pneumonia-like symptoms. This practice is based on the possibility that pneumonia-like symptoms could be caused by undiagnosed tuberculosis. In some cases, a single course of antibiotic treatment with fluoroquinolone drugs could lead to the development of a resistant strain of tuberculosis in that individual.

Fluoroquinolones are considered to be broad spectrum antibiotics that are effective in treating bacterial infections of a serious nature. These drugs are particularly recommended for patients who are sufficiently ill to require imminent hospitalization. One disadvantage of broad spectrum antibiotics is their tendency to lead to the development of resistant bacterial strains. Many public health sources recommend avoiding the use of fluoroquinolone drugs for minor infections.

The possible growth of a fluoroquinolone-resistant strain of tuberculosis is said to be a concern in the world medical community. Many other types of pathogens have already created strains resistant to these drugs. Resistant pathogens include some varieties of streptococcus and staphylococcus.

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