(AP) - Minnesota and North Dakota health officials have identified the country's first known cases of meningitis bacteria that's resistant to quinolone antibiotics, which are commonly given to people who have close contact with individuals that have meningococcal disease.
The Minnesota Health Department said there was one such drug-resistent case in eastern North Dakota and two cases in northwestern Minnesota over the last 13 months.
Meningococcal infections are rare in Minnesota, with an average of 25 cases per year.
The Health Department said Friday the meningocuccus bacteria in those three cases did not respond to the quinolone antibiotics commonly used to prevent meningitis, bloodstream infections and other serious infections from infecting others.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said the drug-resistant strain was an important finding.
"Even though there are other drugs that can be used to prevent meningococcal disease, having one less weapon in our arsenal reminds us of the importance of appropriate antibiotic use," she said in a prepared statement.
"Misuse of antibiotics, such as using antibiotics to treat viral infections like the cold, is the biggest driver of antibiotic resistance. We must use antibiotics carefully," he said.
Health authorities are urging doctors in the Fargo-Moorhead area to use three other kinds of antibiotics as a preventive treatment for people who have close contact to those infected with meningococcal diseases.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)