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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2001;7 Suppl 4:8-15.

The VISA/GISA problem: therapeutic implications.

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Microbiology Department, Ciutat Sanitària i Universitària de Bellvitge, Barcelona, Spain.


The emergence of vancomycin intermediate resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VISA) isolates in Japan, USA, France, Hong Kong and Korea among methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) clinical isolates, is of great concern. Vancomycin has been the drug of choice for the treatment of multiresistant MRSA infections in the last three decades, but the management of invasive MRSA infections will become a serious problem if VISA strains become widespread. VISA isolates reported to date have a vancomycin MIC of 8 mg/L, and were isolated from patients with underlying diseases whose long-term vancomycin treatment apparently failed. Since many VISA isolates also have been resistant to teicoplanin, the term glycopeptide-intermediate S. aureus (GISA) is more appropriate. The frequency of GISA isolates appears to be extremely low; to date, only 10 GISA infections have been reported worldwide. However, heterogeneous resistance to glycopeptides (h-GISA) have been reported in Japan, Europe and Thailand. These h-GISA strains showed vancomycin MICs ranging from 1 to 4 mg/L, but had subpopulations that could grow on agar plates containing 4-8 mg/L, which may represent the first step in the development of GISA strains. Although GISA isolates have shown resistance to many antimicrobials, all GISA isolates remain susceptible to co-trimoxazole and some of them to other common antimicrobials. Currently, there are no recommended therapy guidelines for GISA infections, although in recent studies, several new drugs have shown promising activity against GISA strains. In addition, synergy between glycopeptides and beta-lactams against GISA strains was observed in some in vivo and in vitro studies. Specific MRSA/GISA control programs, rational antibiotic policies, including the reduction of glycopeptide use, and rapid laboratory detection of GISA and h-GISA strains are the key measures in preventing the spread of these strains.

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