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J Clin Microbiol. 2011 Jun;49(6):2147-50. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01435-10. Epub 2011 Apr 13.

Detection of intermediately vancomycin-susceptible and heterogeneous Staphylococcus aureus isolates: comparison of Etest and Agar screening methods.

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Department of Medicine, St. John Hospital and Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan, USA.


Detection of Staphylococcus aureus isolates with intermediate vancomycin susceptibility (VISA) and heteroresistance (hVISA) remains problematic. The population analysis profile/area under the curve (PAP/AUC) is the gold standard but is cumbersome. We compared the performance of two Etest screening methods (macromethod [MAC] and glycopeptide resistance detection [GRD]) plus brain heart infusion (BHI) agars supplemented with 3 (BHI-V3) or 4 (BHI-V4) mg/liter vancomycin in detecting hVISA and/or VISA phenotypes. Etest hVISA screenings were done in parallel for 485 saved methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) blood isolates according to the manufacturer's instructions. The PAP/AUC was measured for all isolates according to the modified method. PAP/AUC test isolate/Mu3 ratios of <0.9, 0.9 to 1.3, and >1.3 were considered positive for susceptible MRSA (S-MRSA), hVISA, and VISA, respectively. PAP/AUC revealed seven VISA and 33 hVISA phenotypes. MAC screening was positive for 30 (75.0%) hVISA/VISA and 49 (11.0%) S-MRSA isolates. GRD screening was positive for 28 (70.0%) hVISA/VISA and 63 (14.2%) S-MRSA isolates. Growth on BHI-V3 was noted in all hVISA/VISA and 24 (5.4%) S-MRSA isolates. Growth on BHI-V4 was noted in all VISA and four (12.1%) hVISA isolates. None of the S-MRSA isolates grew on BHI-V4 agar. The sensitivity, specificity, and positive (PPV) and negative (NPV) predictive values were 75.0%, 89.0%, 38.0%, and 97.5% for MAC; 70.0%, 85.8%, 30.8%, and 97.0% for GRD; 100%, 94.6%, 62.5%, and 100% for BHI-V3; and 100, 99.2%, 63.6%, and 100% for BHI-V4 (for detecting VISA). These findings suggest that both Etest screening methods have excellent NPV, but positive results require confirmation. BHI-V3 and BHI-V4 agars provide more precise identification of hVISA and VISA, respectively; they may be reasonable alternatives to PAP/AUC.

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