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The prevalence of antibiotic resistance amongst Gram-positive cocci from 25 UK hospitals was studied over an 8 month period in 1999. A total of 3770 isolates were tested by the sentinel laboratories using the Etest; these bacteria comprised 1000 pneumococci, 1005 Staphylococcus aureus, 769 coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS) and 996 enterococci. To ensure quality, 10% of the isolates were retested centrally, as were any found to express unusual resistance patterns. The prevalence of penicillin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae, vancomycin-resistant enterococci and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) varied widely amongst the sentinel laboratories. The resistance rates to methicillin among S. aureus and CNS were 19.2 and 38.9%, respectively, with MRSA rates in individual sentinel sites ranging from 0 to 43%. No glycopeptide resistance was seen in S. aureus, but 6.5% of CNS isolates were teicoplanin resistant and 0.5% were vancomycin resistant. Vancomycin resistance was much more frequent among Enterococcus faecium (24.1%) than E. faecalis (0.5%) (P<0.05), with most resistant isolates carrying vanA. The rate of penicillin resistance in pneumococci was 8.9%, and this resistance was predominantly intermediate (7.9%), with only six hospitals reporting isolates with high level resistance. The prevalence of erythromycin resistance among pneumococci was 12.3%, with the majority of resistant isolates having the macrolide efflux mechanism mediated by mefE. All the organisms tested were susceptible to linezolid with MICs in the range 0.12-4 mg/L. The modal MICs of linezolid were 1 mg/L for CNS and pneumococci, and 2 mg/L for S. aureus and enterococci. Linezolid was the most potent agent tested against Gram-positive cocci, including multiresistant strains, and as such may prove a valuable therapeutic option for the management of Gram-positive infections in hospitals.


Journal article


J Antimicrob Chemother

Publication Date





931 - 940


Acetamides, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Gram-Positive Cocci, Humans, Linezolid, Methicillin Resistance, Microbial Sensitivity Tests, Oxazolidinones, Penicillin Resistance