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Study finds day-care kids swapping superbugs

TORONTO - A study presented in Toronto has found that children in day-care centres may be sharing bacteria resistant to antibiotics, known as superbugs.

Israeli researchers found 80 per cent of kids who go to day care in Israel – compared to 40 per cent of kids who don't – are infected with a resistant strain of bacteria called pneumococcus.

Doctors say a growing number of children are failing to respond to regular antibiotics, because of overuse.

"We are getting to a vicious cycle," says Dr. Ron Dagan who led the study at Israel's Ben Gurion University. "We're getting more resistant organisms. We give more antibiotics. We're getting now more resistant. And if this continues, we are going to end up with no appropriate treatment for kids."

Researchers believe children who take antibiotics develop resistant bacteria on their hands and in their noses, and then pass the bacteria on to their classmates.

Canadian researcher Dr. Donald Low says countries such as Iceland are so concerned about the problem they actually bans children with superbugs from going to day care.

"The idea is draconian but, if it works, it may be the only solution we have," says Low, an infectious diseases specialist at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital.

But child care experts say the problem isn't day care, it's doctors who prescribe too many antibiotics.

Experts are hoping a new vaccine against pneumococcus might eliminate the need for antibiotics. Health Canada could approve that vaccine within a year.

CBC Newsworld, Sept 20, 2000

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