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Introduction. Sparse recent data are available in the United States regarding the pathogens of acute otitis media (AOM) most likely to be recovered from children recently treated with the two most frequently prescribed antibiotics, amoxicillin or amoxicillin/clavulanate (AMC).

Methods. Of the 704 rural Kentucky children with culture-positive AOM who underwent a single tympanocentesis or culture of otorrhea between 1992 and 1998, 96 pathogens were recovered from 90 children during therapy or within 7 days posttherapy with an aminopenicillin. Identification and susceptibility testing of AOM pathogens were performed by routine National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards methods.

Results. Pathogens recovered from children with AOM recently treated (0 to 7 days) with amoxicillin (n = 38) and AMC (n = 58), respectively, were as follows:Haemophilus influenzae (beta-lactamase-negative), 16 and 29%;H. influenzae (beta-lactamase-positive), 11 and 22%; penicillin-susceptible Streptococcus pneumoniae, 26 and 12%; intermediately penicillin-nonsusceptible S. pneumoniae (PNSP), 20 and 10%; resistant PNSP 13 and 17%;Moraxella catarrhalis (beta-lactamase-positive), 13 and 7%; and Streptococcus pyogenes, 3 and 2%. H. influenzae was also isolated from 8 (75%) of 12 children treated with high dose AMC (~80 mg/kg/day amoxicillin component). Significantly fewer children recently treated with amoxicillin were otitis-prone than those given AMC (24%vs. 74%, P < 0.0001).

Conclusions. The predominant pathogen recovered from children with AOM recently treated with amoxicillin was S. pneumoniae (59%) rather than beta-lactamase-producing organisms (24%). H. influenzae was the predominant (51%) pathogen, rather than PNSP (27%), recovered from children recently treated with AMC.

(C) 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.