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Antibiotic use during an influenza pandemic: downstream ecological effects and antibiotic resistance

By Andrew C. Singer and Heike Schmitt


The years 2009–2010 saw the first pandemic virus in several decades. Only in retrospect has the low pathogenicity of the virus been able to be confirmed. The pandemic saw as many deaths per capita as a seasonal influenza virus, but with the significant difference that the young (<18 years) were atypically impacted over those > 18 years old (Kamigaki and Oshitani, 2009). Pharmaceuticals played an important part of health care during the influenza pandemic. Many nations implemented huge stockpiles of antivirals in response to the pandemic, but owing to the low pathogenicity of the virus, there was a negligible increase in existing antibiotic use over interpandemic usage. However, current estimates for antiviral and antibiotic use during a moderate and severe influenza pandemic are without historical precedent (Singer et al., 2011). Here we discuss the environmental and human health implications of a moderate or severe influenza pandemic with regard to Tamiflu itself and the use of antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections. Antibiotic use will be framed in the context of existing paradigms of antibiotic treatment and how these practices already contribute to human and environmental hazards and how these hazards might be minimized in the event of a moderate or severe influenza pandemic

Topics: Biology and Microbiology, Ecology and Environment, Medicine, Health
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.1002/9781118156247.ch26
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