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Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2002 Apr;42(4):283-90.

Emerging elevated mupirocin resistance rates among staphylococcal isolates in the SENTRY Antimicrobial Surveillance Program (2000): correlations of results from disk diffusion, Etest and reference dilution methods.

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The JONES Group/JMI Laboratories, North Liberty, IA, USA.


Staphylococci cause one-third of all serious invasive infections in the SENTRY Antimicrobial Surveillance Program including bacteremias and lower respiratory tract infections. Staphylococci are also commensals of the skin and nasal passages; therefore, topical agents active against these organisms are valuable in preventing infections or transfer of the organisms between patients and/or health care workers. Mupirocin is a potent topical anti-staphylococcal compound, but its effectiveness has been compromised by emerging resistance. In early 2000, the SENTRY Program detected 302 mupirocin-resistant isolates (131 Staphylococcus aureus, and 171 coagulase-negative staphylococci [CoNS]) from the United States (19/25 medical centers), Canada (4/5), Latin America (3/9) and Europe (7/18). One hundred sixty-eight mupirocin-resistant and 59 susceptible isolates were tested further by reference MIC, Etest (AB BIODISK, Solna, Sweden) and disk diffusion (5-microg) methods. Mupirocin resistance rates for blood stream infections varied by geographic area: for S. aureus from 1.9 to 5.6%, and for CoNS from 12.8 to 39.9%. Using elevated mupirocin MIC results, two resistant populations were noted: low-level resistance at 8-128 microg/mL and high-level resistance at > or = 1024 microg/mL. Acceptable correlation was observed between Etest and disk diffusion results (r = 0.84) without serious intermethod interpretive errors. High-level resistant isolates had heavy growth with no visible zone around the disk; low-level resistant isolates produced hazy zones of inhibition, and susceptible strains had clear zones of inhibition at > or = 17 mm. As mupirocin resistance can be plasmid-mediated, the prudent and appropriate use of this topical agent is important to minimize the ongoing development of resistance. Local surveillance for emerging mupirocin resistance appears warranted particularly in the United States and Canada, pragmatically using a disk diffusion test screening. Where more precise data are needed, the Etest is a very accurate method for distinguishing mupirocin low-level from high-level resistance patterns.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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