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Sharing surveillance of infectious diseases could reduce use of antibiotics

International study found diagnoses improved through shared use of local real-time surveillance


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Sharing of local real-time surveillance of infectious diseases could help diagnoses and reduce use of antibiotics, a study shows

Local real-time surveillance of infectious diseases such as flu could lead to better diagnoses and reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics, a study shows.

A team of researchers at the University of Bristol examined surveillance systems from around the world which use daily emails or faxes to share information with primary care centres on illnesses in circulation.

One system showed a reduction in the prescribing of antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections from 26.4% to 8.6%. Another reduced prescribing by 5.1% during a spell of moderate influenza.

Useful where diagnosis is uncertain

University of Bristol professor of primary care Alastair Hay, lead author of the study, said: ‘It would be especially useful in cases where diagnosis is uncertain, for example in children presenting with symptoms of respiratory infection.

‘Although we don’t currently have such a system in the UK, many of the necessary elements to introduce one are already in place.’


Hay A and Lane I (2018) Managing infectious disease in primary care: using real-time syndromic and microbiological surveillance. British Journal of General Practice. doi.org/10.3399/bjgp18X696293

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