Antibiotic Beats E. Coli
A mere three days of taking the antibiotic Zithromax (azithromycin) cleared up E. coli infections in patients during last spring's outbreak. That's the finding of a German study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association on March 14th. This is big news because until now most recommendations have recommended against treating E. coli with antibiotics based on a concern about the elevated risk of a life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome. However in the current study, some patients received an antibody that has been shown to be beneficial in fighting that syndrome. The antibody does up the chances of contracting other serious infections, but the researchers administered a prophylactic as a safeguard against that outcome.
According to a MedPageToday review of the JAMA article, by day 35 there were no E. coli carriers in the treated group compared with 57.7% of the untreated patients who were still carriers at day 42. Because of this significant difference, the researchers then prescribed Zithromax for the previously untreated patients who still had symptoms. None of the patients showed signs of developing hemolytic uremic syndrome.
The study was limited because it was conducted at a single site and with a small number of patients and was not randomized. Even so, the results are encouraging.