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Forgotten Antibiotic Temocillin May Help Treat Severe UTIs, Reduce Spread Of Resistant Bacteria

UTIs are especially common in women.

Researchers found that temocillin led to lower selection of resistant intestinal bacteria than the standard treatment for febrile urinary tract infection.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : November 2, 2021 9:03 PM IST

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common infections that can occur in any part of your urinary system, which includes your bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the most common cause of urinary tract infections. This type of bacteria is normally found in the gut, but if it can cause serious illness if it gets into the blood or urinary tract. In most cases, UTIs can be treated with antibiotics in tablet form, but intravenous antibiotics may be needed for some patients who are admitted to hospital with severe infections. Cefotaxime have been used as a standard treatment in such cases. However, an increasing fraction of bacteria have become less susceptible to this antibiotic, which has compelled heath experts around the world to look for an alternative.

Now, a new study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases has suggested that temocillin, a forgotten antibiotic, may be useful in treating severe urinary tract infections that give rise to fever. The authors said that temocillin led to lower selection of resistant bacteria than the standard treatment for febrile urinary tract infection.

H kan Hanberger, professor at Link ping University and consultant in infectious diseases at Link ping University Hospital and principal investigator of the study, believes that using temocillin to treat severe urinary tract infections can reduce spread of resistant bacteria in hospitals.

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Using already existing antibiotics to fight resistant bacteria

Temocillin is a member of the penicillin group of antibiotics that has been known for several decades and used in some other European countries. However, it is not marketed in Sweden. According to researchers, temocillin does not have a broad effect against many different bacteria and acts specifically against E. coli and other intestinal bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections. Thus, it reduces the risk that the treatment will act against the normal intestinal bacterial flora.

The study funded by the Public Health Agency of Sweden included 152 patients with UTI that gave rise to fever, also known as pyelonephritis, that required intravenous antibiotics. A group was treated with temocillin and the other group with the standard antibiotic, cefotaxime.

In the group treated with temocillin, the intestinal flora was less affected. This is mainly because temocillin gives less selection of resistant intestinal bacteria, suggested Charlotta Edlund, professor of microbiology and specialist investigator at the Public Health Agency of Sweden.

Not just the clinical effect of temocillin was as good as the standard treatment with cefotaxime, they also had equivalent undesired effects, the authors stated.

Since temocillin is less aggressive against the bacterial flora in the intestine, using this forgotten antibiotic for UTIs will have advantages for both patients and society, they added, as quoted by Science Daily.

How to reduce your chances of getting a UTI

Although urinary tract infections can be treated with antibiotics, it is best to avoid getting a UTI. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of urinary tract infections:

  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially water.
  • After urinating and after a bowel movement, wipe from front to back.
  • Empty your bladder soon after intercourse.
  • Avoid using deodorant sprays or other potentially irritating feminine products, such as douches and powders, in the genital area.

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