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January 17, 1996

Icelandic Researchers Are Showing the Way to Bring Down Rates of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

JAMA. 1996;275(3):175. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530270015006

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PUBLIC HEALTH experts have long preached that curbing overuse of antibiotics is a crucial element in reversing the alarming increases in drug-resistant strains of pathogenic bacteria. But such preaching seems to have largely fallen on deaf ears, as antibiotic use remains high and rates of resistant bacteria have increased around the world.

Now, a team of Icelandic researchers has demonstrated that when such advice is actually followed—in the wake of considerable publicity warning physicians and the public of the hazards of too liberal use of the drugs—the rates of penicillin-resistant bacteria in that country have indeed dropped.

"We've been following the epidemiology of penicillin-resistant pneumococci [PRP] in Iceland since the first strain was isolated here in December of 1988," says Karl G. Kristinsson, MD, PhD, of National University Hospital, in Reykjavik, Iceland, who presented the group's findings at the 35th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, in San Francisco,