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Antibiotic Holiday Needs to Be A Long One to Combat Resistance

Posted Jan 10 2011 6:04pm

Heavy use of antibiotics has created a host of dangerous drug-resistant pathogens that endanger the health of millions of people. However, it has been unclear how quickly a ban on the overuse of an antibiotic would restore its usefulness.

According to a new study by researchers at Yale University and the University of Tromso in Norway, the “antibiotic holiday” would have to extend over 40 years to be effective.

“Bacterial populations have evolved resistance to most antibiotics we have,” said Jeffrey Townsend, assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and co-lead author of the paper, published online Jan. 8 in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. “Since we have failed to develop new antibiotics, many people have proposed that we just need to pause our usage of the ones for which resistance has reached a high frequency. Unfortunately, that alone does not appear to be a viable solution.”

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