In February 1995, single-dose azithromycin was given to children with trachoma and their household contacts who were children. For children with trachoma, rates of carriage of pneumococci immediately before treatment with azithromycin and 2-3 weeks, 2 months, and 6 months after treatment were 68% (54 of 79), 29% (11 of 38), 78% (29 of 37), and 87% (34 of 39), respectively. The proportion of carriage-positive children with azithromycin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae strains was 1 of 54 (1.9%) before treatment and then 6 of 11 (54.5%), 10 of 29 (34.5%), and 2 of 34 (5.9%) at follow-up visits. The profile of pneumococcal serotypes changed after azithromycin treatment. Azithromycin-resistant strains (serotypes 10F, 23A, and 45) were isolated from 1 (1.3%) of 79 pretreatment swab specimens, from 16 (21.3%) of 75 swab specimens collected up to 2 months after treatment, and from 2 (6%) of 32 obtained 6 months after treatment. Mathematical modeling showed a more rapid appearance of azithromycin-resistant pneumococcal strains in previously colonized children than in previously noncolonized children. Thus, it appears that the selective effect of azithromycin allowed the growth and transmission of preexisting azithromycin-resistant strains. More research is needed to clarify the clinical relevance and implications of azithromycin use.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Financial support: Northern Territory Government, Public Health Research, and Development Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Written informed consent was obtained from parents or guardians. The study was approved by an Institutional Ethics Committee with Aboriginal representation, working with Australian National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines.
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