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Published on 7 November 2008

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Bacteria used on respiratory illness


A ‘friendly’ bacteria has been used to counteract a dangerous counterpart that causes respiratory illness in ventilated patients.

The probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum 299 used instead of normal antiseptics has proved effective in preventing ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).

An added bonus is that because it does not incorporate resistance genes, or transfer genetic material, it does not contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains.

Bengt Klarin from the University Hospital in Lund, Sweden, found that the probiotic was as effective as the antiseptic chlorhexidine (CHX), which is normally used.

According to Klarin: “VAP is connected with longer intensive care and hospital stays, additional costs and high mortality. The risk of developing this condition increases by 1% with each additional day of mechanical ventilation.”

He said that L. plantarum can also counteract potentially pathogenic bacteria around the clock, which is superior to the fairly short-term effect of orally applied chemical agents.

The probiotic is normally present in saliva and is also commonly found in fermented food products like pickles and sauerkraut. The authors found no negative side effects of using it.

The research is published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Critical Care.

Copyright Press Association 2008

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