Back to the Future: Penicillin-Susceptible Staphylococcus aureus

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Background Widespread penicillin usage rapidly resulted in the emergence of penicillin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus. However, new data suggest that penicillin susceptibility may be in a period of renaissance. The objective of our study was to quantify penicillin resistance in methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) bacteremia. Methods We retrospectively reviewed all adult MSSA bacteremia from April 2010 to April 2015 at the McGill University Health Centre (Montreal, QC, Canada). Susceptibility to penicillin, erythromycin, clindamycin, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) was determined in accordance with the Clinical & Laboratory Standards Institute guidelines. Results There were 324 unique episodes of MSSA bacteremia. Ninety (28%) isolates were susceptible to penicillin, 229 (71%) to erythromycin, 239 (74%) to clindamycin, and 317 (98%) to TMP-SMX. Isolates that were penicillin resistant were more likely to also be resistant to other antibiotics, but a statistically significant association was apparent only for erythromycin resistance (76/234, 32.2% vs 19/90, 21.1%, P = .04). The median age of patients was 67.5 years (interquartile range 52-78) and overall in-hospital 30-day mortality was 16.3% (53 deaths). After adjustment for patient age, there was no association between penicillin resistance and either intensive care unit admission or death. Conclusion More than one-quarter of patients with MSSA bacteremia potentially could be treated with parenteral penicillin, which may offer pharmacokinetic advantages over other beta-lactam drugs and potentially improved outcomes.




Cheng, M. P., René, P., Cheng, A. P., & Lee, T. C. (2016). Back to the Future: Penicillin-Susceptible Staphylococcus aureus. American Journal of Medicine, 129(12), 1331–1333.

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