Streptococcus pneumoniae is the leading bacterial cause of community-acquired respiratory tract infections. Prior to the 1970s this pathogen was uniformly susceptible to penicillin and most other antimicrobials. However, since the 1990s there has been a significant increase in drug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae (DRSP) due, in large part, to increased use of antimicrobials. The clinical significance of this resistance is not definitely established, but appears to be most relevant to specific MICs for specific antimicrobials. Certain beta-lactams (amoxicillin, cefotaxime, ceftriaxone), the respiratory fluoroquinolones, and telithromycin are among several agents that remain effective against DRSP. Continued surveillance studies, appropriate antimicrobial usage campaigns, stratification of patients based on known risk factors for resistance, and vaccination programmes are needed to appropriately manage DRSP and limit its spread.
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