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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2009 Dec;64(6):1291-8. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkp349. Epub 2009 Sep 24.

Prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria isolated from older versus younger hospitalized adults: results of a two-centre study.

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  • 1Section of Infectious Diseases, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA. sgweber@medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu



To compare the proportion of antimicrobial-resistant strains among bacterial isolates from younger and older hospital patients and to quantify changes in the proportion of antimicrobial-resistant strains in both groups over time.


A retrospective analysis of microbiology data from two centres in Maryland and Chicago was performed. Adult hospital inpatients with positive clinical cultures for specific antimicrobial-resistant bacterial pathogens between 1999 and 2005 (55 427 isolates) were included. The proportions of isolates not susceptible to specific antimicrobial agents were compared between patients > or =65 and <65 years. Additional analyses examined temporal trends in the frequency of resistance and the frequency of resistance among the oldest patients (> or =80 years), in bacteria isolated from blood cultures and in bacteria obtained from intensive care unit patients.


Heterogeneity was observed in the frequency of resistance among different bacteria between older and younger patients, between the two centres and over the study period. Staphylococcus aureus isolates were more likely to be resistant to methicillin when obtained from older patients at Chicago (50.9% versus 40.9%; P < 0.001). In contrast, younger patients yielded a greater proportion of enterococci resistant to vancomycin at Maryland (19.4% versus 16.5%; P = 0.009). Results were variable when resistance to fluoroquinolones, cephalosporins and imipenem were compared for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli and Klebsiella spp.


Overall, advanced patient age was not uniformly associated with a greater likelihood of antimicrobial resistance among all bacterial pathogens. Moreover, the frequency of resistance in older and younger patients varied considerably at the two sites over the study period. Variability in the frequency of resistance precludes simplistic conclusions regarding the relationship between age and resistance.

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