Integration of molecular characterization of microorganisms in a global antimicrobial resistance surveillance program

M A Pfaller, J Acar, R N Jones, J Verhoef, J Turnidge, H S Sader
Clinical Infectious Diseases 2001 May 15, 32: S156-67
The SENTRY Antimicrobial Surveillance Program has incorporated molecular strain typing and resistance genotyping as a means of providing additional information that may be useful for understanding pathogenic microorganisms worldwide. Resistance phenotypes of interest include multidrug-resistant pathogens, extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci, and fluoroquinolone-resistant (FQR) strains of gram-negative bacilli and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Clusters of > or =2 isolates within a given resistance profile that are linked temporally and by hospital location are flagged for DNA fingerprinting. Further characterization of organisms with respect to resistance genotype is accomplished with use of polymerase chain reaction and DNA sequencing. This process has been highly successful in identifying clonal spread within clusters of multiresistant pathogens. Between 50% and 90% of MRSA clusters identified by phenotypic screening contained evidence of clonal spread. Among the Enterobacteriaceae, ESBL-producing strains of Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae are the most common pathogens causing clusters of infection, and approximately 50% of recognized clusters demonstrate clonal spread. Clusters of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter species, and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia have been noted with clonal spread among patients with urinary tract, respiratory, and bloodstream infections. Characterization of mutations in the FQR-determining region of phenotypically susceptible isolates of E. coli and S. pneumoniae has identified first-stage mutants among as many as 40% of isolates. The ability to characterize organisms phenotypically and genotypically is extremely powerful and provides unique information that is important in a global antimicrobial surveillance program.

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