By Kim Se-jeong
A Korean medical team has discovered a new strain of Streptococcus Pneumoniae (S. pneumonia) that is resistant to antibiotics.
According to team leader doctor Kang Cheol-in of Samsung Medical Center, Wednesday, the bacterial strain was found in five elderly patients treated for pneumonia between 2011 and 2012.
The strain was resistant to eight antibiotics commonly used to treat pneumonia patients, Kang said.
The finding was published in the May edition of the journal "Emerging Infectious Disease," published by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Among the 510 S. pneumoniae islolates (319 in 2011 and 191 in 2012), we identified 5 XDR (extensively drug-resistant) pneumococcal isolates from five patients," the article states.
Penicillin, cephalosporins, macrolides, tetracyclines and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole are among the eight antibiotics.
Three patients were infected in nursing homes and two in residential care centers for the elderly. The average age of the patients was 71.8, hinting that the number of elderly patients with the bacteria could be higher.
S. pneumoniae is one of the most common pathogens that cause pneumonia.
"Bacteria grow resistant to antibiotics over time. What is new is that S. pneumoniae was found to be resistant to eight, not three to four, which is average," Kang said.
One patient died a week after being hospitalized, showed the antibiotics did not attack the disease.
The new finding is raising red flags on antibiotic abuse.
"Antibacterial drugs should be used judiciously," the authors mentioned in the journal.
According to local statistics, in 2002, 74 percent of patients suffering from colds were given antibiotic prescriptions. This decreased to 44 percent in 2013, but prescribing antibiotics is still common.
The new finding also raises concerns about the management of older pneumonia patients.
In 2002, 5.6 people out of 100,000 died of pneumonia, but the number rose to 20.5 in 2012.