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J Antimicrob Chemother. 1992 Oct;30(4):429-47.

Survey of the prevalence of beta-lactamases amongst 1000 gram-negative bacilli isolated consecutively at the Royal London Hospital.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, London Hospital Medical College, UK.


beta-Lactamase expression was examined in 1000 consecutive Gram-negative bacilli isolated from urine, wound swab, sputum or blood specimens received at the Microbiology Laboratory of the Royal London Hospital. This survey, performed between January and April, 1991, followed a similar study undertaken in early 1982. The distribution of species was similar in the two surveys, except that the proportion of Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates had increased from 11% in 1982 to 17.5% in the present study. This increase was balanced by a decreased proportion of enterobacteria. Amongst plasmid-mediated beta-lactamases, TEM-1 (especially), TEM-2, SHV-1 and OXA types continued to predominate in enterobacteria. Their frequency in Escherichia coli was unchanged (46% in 1991 compared with 43% in 1982), but had increased from 5 to 22% amongst Proteus mirabilis isolates. An apparent decrease in their frequency amongst Enterobacter cloacae isolates, from 48% in 1982 to 17% in 1991, probably reflected changes to strain prevalence rather than enzyme prevalence. Plasmid type beta-lactamases were present in fewer than 2% of P. aeruginosa isolates in both surveys. In the present study, chromosomal beta-lactamase derepression (constitutive hyperproduction) was detected in 10/76 isolates of E. cloacae, Enterobacter aerogenes, Citrobacter freundii, Serratia spp. and Morganella morganii, and in 2/170 P. aeruginosa isolates. These proportions were increased, compared with those seen the 1982 survey, though the significance was borderline (P approximately 0.05; chi 2 test). Extended-spectrum plasmid mediated beta-lactamases, unknown in 1982, were found in 11/70 Klebsiellae pneumoniae isolates in the present study. Ten of these organisms, representing at least five distinct strains, produced TEM-10 enzyme, encoded by a plasmid of c. 90 kb; the remaining organism had an unidentified SHV-derived enzyme.

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