Bacterial Keratitis in Toronto: A 16-Year Review of the Microorganisms Isolated and the Resistance Patterns Observed

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To review the incidence, distribution, current trends, and resistance patterns of bacterial keratitis isolates in Toronto over the past 16 years.


Microbiology records of suspected bacterial keratitis that underwent a diagnostic corneal scraping and cultures from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2015, were retrospectively reviewed. The distribution of the main isolated pathogens and in vitro laboratory minimum inhibitory concentration testing results were used to identify resistance patterns.


A total of 2330 corneal scrapings were taken over 16 years. A pathogen was recovered in 1335 samples (57.3%), with bacterial keratitis accounting for 1189 of the positive cultures (86.0% of all isolates). The total number of gram-positive and gram-negative isolates was 963 and 324, respectively. Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were the most common gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria isolates, respectively. A decreasing trend in the number of isolates in gram-positive bacteria (P = 0.01), specifically among Staphylococcus aureus (P < 0.0001) and Streptococcus species (P = 0.005), was identified. When analyzing the susceptibilities of gram-positive and gram-negative isolates, an increasing trend in antibiotic resistance was observed in erythromycin (P = 0.018), ceftazidime (P = 0.046), and piperacillin/tazobactam (P = 0.005). The susceptibility of tested gram-positive microorganisms to vancomycin was 99.6%.


There has been a decreasing trend in the number of isolates in gram-positive microorganisms over the past 16 years. An increasing trend in resistance for various antibiotics against gram-negative and gram-positive isolates was identified. High susceptibility to vancomycin reinforced the empirical use of fortified tobramycin and vancomycin in the initial management of severe bacterial keratitis.

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