Inmates entering maximum-security correctional facilities in
New York overuse topical antibiotic agents, according to research presented at
the 39th Annual Educational Conference and International Meeting of the
Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
“Many of the reported reasons for using topical
antibiotics were not consistent with recommended uses,” study researcher
Carolyn Herzig, MS, a PhD candidate at Columbia University, told Infectious
Disease News. “The inmates reported using topical antibiotics for dry
skin, as lip balm, as hair grease and for shaving purposes.”
Herzig and colleagues conducted the study, which
included 421 men entering a male maximum-security prison and 401 women entering a
female maximum-security prison. The researchers conducted interviews using
structured questionnaires, and also collected anterior nares and oropharyngeal
samples from the prisoners.
The prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus was 59%
in the men’s prison and 50% in the women’s prison. Data from
self-reports showed that 16% of inmates entering the men’s prison and 38% of the
inmates entering the women’s prison used oral antibiotics in the past 6 months.
In addition, 23% of inmates entering the men’s prison and 28% of inmates entering the
women’s prison reported using a topical antibiotic in the past six months.
Men who were colonized with S. aureus were
significantly less likely to have reported using oral antibiotics in the
previous 6 months. S. aureus colonization was not associated with
topical antibiotic use at either facility. The researchers found that, among inmates who reported using topical antibiotics, 59% of
men and 40% of women used them inappropriately.
“The data suggest that there is a need to educate
inmates about the appropriate uses of topical antibiotics and that alternative
products, such as lotion and ointments that do not contain antibiotics, should
be made readily available to inmates,” Herzig said.
“Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are a problem in prisons and the misuse
of antibiotics in these facilities might exacerbate this issue.”
Herzig C. #100. Presented at: 39th Annual Educational Conference and International Meeting of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology; June 4-6, 2012; San Antonio.
Ms. Herzig reports no relevant financial disclosures.