Antibiotics linked to brain disease

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World medical experts are to discuss the rise in resistance to antibiotic drugs next week as new evidence emerged of a link with meningitis.

Research carried out by a Gloucester-based team has suggested the potentially fatal brain disease is linked to high use of antibiotics. Cases were significantly more likely in towns where doctors prescribed more antibiotics, the team said. In areas with meningitis clusters, there were almost 50 per cent more prescriptions, according to reports yesterday.

The World Medical Association, which will debate the issue at a meeting in South Africa, warned yesterday: "The global increase in resistance of anti-microbial drugs, including the emergence of bacterial strains resistant to all available anti-bacterial agents, has created a public health problem of potentially crisis proportions."