• Vol. 37 No. 10, 819–825
  • 15 October 2008

Antibiotic Resistance in Gram-negative Bacilli: A Singapore Perspective



Introduction: Antibiotic resistance in gram-negative bacilli is an area of increasing importance. This prospective study was performed to survey antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli (E. coli), Klebsiella spp., Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter spp. over a 1-year period.

Materials and Methods: Non-duplicate isolates of E. coli, Klebsiella spp., P. aeruginosa and Acinetobacter spp. were collected from participating Singapore hospitals during defined collection periods in 2006 and 2007. Confirmatory identification and antibiotic susceptibility testing were performed at Changi General Hospital. Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) to a defined panel of antibiotics were determined using microbroth dilution methods. The presence of extended-spectrum beta lactamases and AmpC beta-lactamases in Enterobacteriaceae was determined by phenotypic methods, and susceptibility results were defined using current breakpoints from the Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI).

Results: Seven hundred and forty-six gram-negative bacilli were received for testing. Resistance to extended-spectrum cephalosporins was present in a third of Enterobacteriaceae isolates, and extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL) carriage was present in 19.6% and 30.1% of E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, respectively. AmpC enzymes were also detected in 8.5% and 5.6% of E. coli and K. pneumoniae isolates respectively. All Enterobacteriaceae were susceptible to imipenem and meropenem. The most active antibiotics against P. aeruginosa were amikacin, meropenem and piperacillin-tazobactam. A third of P. aeruginosa showed reduced susceptibility to polymyxin B. Carbapenem resistance was significantly higher in Acinetobacter baumannii (70.5%) than in other Acinetobacter species (25.0%). The most active antibiotic against A. baumannii was polymyxin B.

Conclusion: Antibiotic resistance is prevalent in gram-negative bacilli isolated from Singapore hospitals. The MIC testing surveillance programme complemented susceptibility data from wider laboratory-based surveillance, and has revealed emerging mechanisms of antibiotic resistance.

In contrast to recent media reviews on gram-positive pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, vancomycin-resistant enterococci and Clostridium difficile, the increasing complexity and multiplicity of antibiotic resistance in gram-negative bacilli has generally gone unnoticed by the general public. Antimicrobial resistance in gram-negative bacilli has increased worldwide over the past decade.

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