Antimicrobial Resistance Following Azithromycin Mass Drug Administration: Potential Surveillance Strategies to Assess Public Health Impact

Mack I, Sharland M, Berkley JA, Klein N, Malhotra-Kumar S, Bielicki J
Clin Infect Dis. 2020;70

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The reduction in childhood mortality noted in trials investigating azithromycin mass drug administration (MDA) for trachoma control has been confirmed by a recent large randomized controlled trial. Population-level implementation of azithromycin MDA may lead to selection of multiresistant pathogens. Evidence suggests that repeated azithromycin MDA may result in a sustained increase in macrolide and other antibiotic resistance in gut and respiratory bacteria. Current evidence comes from standard microbiological techniques in studies focused on a time-limited intervention, while MDA implemented for mortality benefits would likely repeatedly expose the population over a prolonged period and may require a different surveillance approach. Targeted short-term and long-term surveillance of resistance emergence to key antibiotics, especially those from the World Health Organization Access group, is needed throughout any implementation of azithromycin MDA, focusing on a genotypic approach to overcome the limitations of resistance surveillance in indicator bacteria.