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J Clin Microbiol. Dec 1990; 28(12): 2726–2732.
PMCID: PMC268263

Cefotaxime-resistant Nocardia asteroides strains are isolates of the controversial species Nocardia farcinica.


A recent study of Nocardia asteroides revealed that 95% of clinical strains had one of five antibiotic resistance patterns. We found the pattern of resistance to cefotaxime and cefamandole in 19% of 200 clinical N. asteroides isolates. Isolates with this drug resistance pattern were from numerous geographic sources and were associated with significant clinical disease (56% of patients had disseminated infections). Phenotypic studies revealed that these isolates were relatively homogeneous and matched previous descriptions and reference strains of the controversial species N. farcinica. Growth at 45 degrees C, acid production from rhamnose, ability to utilize acetamide as a nitrogen and carbon source, and resistance to tobramycin and cefamandole were features of N. farcinica that could be tested in the clinical laboratory and allowed their distinction from N. asteroides. The serious nature of disease due to N. farcinica and its resistance to the newer cephalosporins suggest a clinical need for laboratory identification of this species. (Current tests used in clinical laboratories do not distinguish N. farcinica from N. asteroides.) This is the first recognition that N. farcinica has a specific drug resistance pattern and confirms the previously described concept that drug resistance patterns of N. asteroides may be associated with specific taxonomic groups.

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Selected References

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