When antibiotics become necessary I assume that the body can not kill the bacteria on its own and there are no useful anti bodies being built.

So in a case where the child is treated with antibiotics and the parents are sick too, isn't it necessary to treat the parents with antibiotics exactly at the same time?

Since the body can't cope with the illness without help, it won't develop immunity and could get infected by the same thing at any time after treatment.

So if only the child is treated, but not the parents chances are the parents are going to infect the child again after antibiotics treatment.

So the whole family needs to be treated exactly at the same time?

  • 1
    There are many different cases where antibiotics might be necessary (for varying values of 'necessary'); do you have a specific type of infection in mind?
    – bertieb
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 16:03
  • Streptococcus probably. Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 20:07

2 Answers 2


In some cases, antibiotics are given to close contacts

Bacterial meningitis is an example of an infection which antibitics would be given to close contacts of someone suffering from a confirmed case, whether the contacts displayed signs and symptoms of meningitis themselves- a prophylactic antibiotic supply.

There are a number of official recommendations on this (for the UK at least):

NICE have a 'managing close contacts' scenario:

Prophylaxis against meningococcal disease should be considered for the following close contacts, regardless of meningococcal vaccination status:

  • People who have had prolonged close contact with the case in a household-type setting during the 7 days before onset of illness (for example, people who are living or sleeping in the same household, pupils in the same dormitory, boy/girlfriends, or university students sharing a kitchen in a hall of residence).


Antibiotic prophylaxis should be given as soon as possible (ideally within 24 hours) after the diagnosis of the index case.

There is also UK government guidance (dating from 2012) on choice of antibiotic [PDF warning], which recommends ciprofloxacin over rifampicin.


Each person needs to be treated on their own merits except in the situation as described in bertieb's answer where you have a highly virulent and potentially lethal infection. And then there's the question of tuberculosis where infected contacts also need to be treated.

So, if the parents or other contacts have the same infection, and are not able to clear this themselves, then yes they need to be treated on their own merits.

  • But won't they infect the kid as soon as it gets off antibiotics or vice versa if they don't take it simultaneously? Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 20:10
  • Not if they observe standard infection protocols like not coughing over people, not spreading saliva and mucus, hand washing etc. But if they're coughing up bugs, then that is the indication to treat. Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 20:20
  • That would be hard to achieve with a baby. Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 10:05

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