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The role of probiotics in potential prophylaxis of infectious disease has been studied for over a century, but until recently there has been no real interest in using these ‘benign’ bacterial species in place of or in combination with antibiotics. However, such suggestions are now commonplace and lead to a renewed interest in what has until recently been seen as a merely commercial branch of microbiology.
This short review looks at the current literature in this area and attempts to identify if there is a scientific basis to inform the cautious clinical use of probiotics either alone or in combination with antibiotics. Whilst the evidence base is to date rather thin, there is sufficient to allow for a cautious support for such ideas. This review also identifies those areas in which further study is required before the general use of probiotics in the treatment of infection may be fully supported.
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