Leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic as a natural experiment to assess changes in antibiotic use and antibiotic-resistant E. coli carriage in semi-rural Ecuador
Heather K. Amato, Fernanda Loayza, Liseth Salinas, Diana Paredes, Daniela García, Soledad Sarzosa, Carlos Saraiva-Garcia, Timothy J. Johnson, Amy J. Pickering, Lee W. Riley, Gabriel Trueba & Jay P. Graham
PMID: 37684276 | PMCID: PMC10491794 | DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-39532-5
The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had significant impacts on health systems, population dynamics, public health awareness, and antibiotic stewardship, which could affect antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) emergence and transmission. In this study, we aimed to compare knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) of antibiotic use and ARB carriage in Ecuadorian communities before versus after the COVID-19 pandemic began. We leveraged data collected for a repeated measures observational study of third-generation cephalosporin-resistant E. coli (3GCR-EC) carriage among children in semi-rural communities in Quito, Ecuador between July 2018 and September 2021. We included 241 households that participated in surveys and child stool sample collection in 2019, before the pandemic, and in 2021, after the pandemic began. We estimated adjusted Prevalence Ratios (aPR) and 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) using logistic and Poisson regression models. Child antibiotic use in the last 3 months declined from 17% pre-pandemic to 5% in 2021 (aPR: 0.30; 95% CI 0.15, 0.61) and 3GCR-EC carriage among children declined from 40 to 23% (aPR: 0.48; 95% CI 0.32, 0.73). Multi-drug resistance declined from 86 to 70% (aPR: 0.32; 95% CI 0.13; 0.79), the average number of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) per 3GCR-EC isolate declined from 9.9 to 7.8 (aPR of 0.79; 95% CI 0.65, 0.96), and the diversity of ARGs was lower in 2021. In the context of Ecuador, where COVID-19 prevention and control measures were strictly enforced after its major cities experienced some of the world’s the highest mortality rates from SARS-CoV-2 infections, antibiotic use and ARB carriage declined in semi-rural communities of Quito from 2019 to 2021.