Viruses may complicate ear infection treatment

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Nov. 27, 2006

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A significant portion of children's ear infections are both bacterial and viral in nature, and the presence of a virus may interfere with the effectiveness of antibiotics, according to a study and accompanying editorial published in the Dec. 1 Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Researchers analyzed middle ear fluid samples from 79 children with acute otitis media and tympanostomy tubes, finding that 92% of these infections were associated with bacteria. In 70%, the source was viral, and 66% of the total number of cases appeared linked to both. The authors suggest the fact a virus is playing a role may be a factor in a poor treatment response to antibiotics.

"Based on this and previous research, it is possible that viruses cause a considerable proportion of clinical treatment failures. Thus, in these cases a new antibiotic is not necessarily the best choice," said Dr. Aino Ruohola, lead author and a researcher at Turku University Hospital in Turku, Finland.

Several medical societies, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians, recommend against antibiotics for mild ear infections.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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