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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2001 Dec;20(12):854-63.

Antimicrobial susceptibility of respiratory isolates of Enterobacteriaceae and Staphylococcus aureus in Italy: incidence and trends over the period 1997-1999.

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Department of Pathology, University of Verona, Italy.


The antibiotic susceptibility of members of the family Enterobacteriaceae and of Staphylococcus aureus strains isolated from the respiratory tract was assessed over the period 1997-1999 as part of the Italian Epidemiological Observatory survey sponsored by the Smith-Kline Foundation. A standardised method was used to determine the MICs of 22 antibiotics against isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae (n=870), Escherichia coli (n=684), Enterobacter cloacae (n=342), Enterobacter aerogenes (n=187) and Serratia marcescens (n=135) as well as the MICs of 11 antibiotics against isolates of Staphylococcus aureus (n=1,606). Overall, the susceptibility rate of Enterobacteriaceae isolates was > or = 90% to 5 agents (meropenem, imipenem, amikacin, cefepime and gentamicin); 89-80% to 2 agents (ciprofloxacin and tobramycin); and <80% to 11 agents (cefotaxime, piperacillin-tazobactam, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, cefetamet, ceftriaxone, ceftazidime, aztreonam, ticarcillin-clavulanate, tetracycline, piperacillin, cefuroxime, chloramphenicol, ticarcillin, amoxicillin-clavulanate and amoxicillin). During the 3-year monitoring period, antibiotic susceptibility increased in Klebsiella pneumoniae against amoxicillin-clavulanate, in Escherichia coli against third-generation cephalosporins and aztreonam, in Enterobacter aerogenes against amoxicillin and piperacillin-tazobactam and in Serratia marcescens against most of the antibiotics. In contrast, Enterobacter cloacae showed a tendency to develop resistance to cefetamet, amikacin and ciprofloxacin. Of the total number of Staphylococcus aureus strains, 38% were methicillin resistant. Nearly 80% of the methicillin-resistant strains displayed a multiresistance pattern (additional resistance to 2 or more non-beta-lactam antibiotics). Rates of susceptibility of particular species (Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus) were compared using strains from different geographical areas of Italy (northern, central and southern) and from different nosocomial areas (outpatients, intensive care unit [ICU] inpatients, non-ICU inpatients). Susceptibility of Klebsiella pneumoniae to several antibiotics was lower in southern Italy, whereas the incidence of methicillin-resistant strains was higher in northern and central Italy. The susceptibility of Escherichia coli was similar in all three areas. No significant differences in susceptibility of Klebsiella pneumoniae or Escherichia coli were found between strains from inpatients and outpatients or from inpatients admitted to ICU and non-ICU units. The incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was higher in ICU inpatients (52%) than in non-ICU inpatients (38%) and lower in outpatients (19%) than in inpatients.

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