Patients with severe intestinal infections usually receive a two-week treatment, but this often fails. Twenty percent are not cured and 10% die from the infection.
Now researchers in Leeds and York are testing a month-long course of antibiotics to see if it’s more effective at clearing up the infection.
The trial is co-led by Dr Andrew Kirby, Associate Professor at the University of Leeds Medical School and consultant in microbiology, and Dermot Burke, Associate Professor of Surgery at Leeds Medical School.
Dr Kirby said: “There may be an aversion to prescribing longer antibiotic courses due to the risk of antimicrobial drug resistance. But these infections are extremely serious and current treatments do not work for a large proportion of patients.
Serious infections occur when the intestine is damaged, usually by surgery or bowel disease, causing bacteria to leak from the intestine into the surrounding cavity.
The resulting infections are a leading cause of sepsis in intensive care unit patients. Sepsis kills more people in the UK than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined.
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Also, there are indications that four days of antibiotics may be sufficient.
Researchers now want to establish whether a 28-day course of antibiotics can cure these infections more effectively than a doctor deciding when to stop the course.
The trial is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).
Mr Burke said: ‘Intra-abdominal infections make patients miserable, tired and keep them in hospital for long periods of time. Improved treatment methods are badly needed.