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J Clin Microbiol. 1993 Oct;31(10):2683-8.

Two percent sodium chloride is required for susceptibility testing of staphylococci with oxacillin when using agar-based dilution methods.

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Nosocomial Pathogens Laboratory Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.


The need to add NaCl to agar media to ensure accuracy of results when testing staphylococci with oxacillin was investigated. The results of four antimicrobial susceptibility testing methods (agar and broth dilution, E test, and disk diffusion) in which the growth medium contained 0, 2, 4, or 5% NaCl were compared with the results of a hybridization assay using a mec gene probe. We tested 223 strains of staphylococci, 128 of which were mec gene positive. A total of 7 of the 128 positive strains were coagulase-negative staphylococci with 24-h oxacillin MICs of < or = 2 micrograms/ml. Ninety-five isolates were mec gene negative, including seven strains of Staphylococcus aureus with oxacillin MICs of > or = 4 micrograms/ml. The oxacillin MICs for mec gene-positive, oxacillin-resistant strains of staphylococci increased two- to fourfold with the addition of NaCl to the test medium, while the MICs for mec gene-negative strains did not change in the presence of added salt. Very major error rates for the agar dilution and E test methods in the absence of salt ranged from 18.2 to 20.2%. Major error rates for mec gene-negative S. aureus isolates were > 17% for all test methods when 4 or 5% NaCl was added to the test medium. The addition of 2% NaCl to Mueller-Hinton agar for testing of oxacillin resulted in very major error rates of < 1% for the agar dilution and E test methods although the major error rates for the two methods with added NaCl were 8.5 and 6.9%, respectively. The disk diffusion test did not perform well in this study, showing essential error rates of > or = 18.3%. We recommended the addition of 2% NaC1 to Mueller-Hinton agar when testing staphylococci with oxacillin by either the agar dilution or E test method. NaC1 should not be added for the disk diffusion test.

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