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Clin Infect Dis. 1998 Jul;27(1):158-63.

Microbiology of sputum from patients at cystic fibrosis centers in the United States.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.


During a phase III national collaborative study of aerosolized tobramycin (1 July 1995 through 30 September 1996), the microbiology of specimens from 595 patients at 69 cystic fibrosis (CF) centers was examined. Samples from three screening visits were processed in a single laboratory by means of standardized techniques for identification and susceptibility testing. From 1,753 pretreatment specimens, 5,128 pathogens were isolated (average, 2.9/specimen). Of the 3,936 Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates, 56.7% were mucoid. The specimens of 125 patients (21.0%) yielded tobramycin-resistant P. aeruginosa (213 isolates); 61 (10.3%), Stenotrophomonas maltophilia; and 52 (8.7%), Alcaligenes xylosoxidans. Isolation of Burkholderia cepacia was an exclusion criterion. Only visit 3 sputum samples were cultured for gram-positive organisms and fungi (n = 465 patients); samples from 201 patients (43.2%) yielded Staphylococcus aureus (18.8% of isolates were oxacillin-resistant), and those from 114 (24.5%) yielded an Aspergillus species. Compared with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry, the current study identified many more patients colonized with S. maltophilia, A. xylosoxidans, Aspergillus species, and oxacillin-resistant S. aureus, suggesting the utility of standardized processing of CF specimens.

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