Reappearance and treatment of penicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus in a tertiary medical centre

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The purpose of this study was to describe trends in the prevalence and treatment patterns of penicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (SA) infections.


This was a cross-sectional study of MSSA isolates from blood cultures at a tertiary-care centre between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2012. All blood cultures positive for MSSA drawn during the study period were used to calculate the prevalence of penicillin-susceptible SA. Repeat cultures were excluded if they were isolated within 6 weeks of the index culture. The analysis was then restricted to inpatient blood cultures to assess treatment patterns. Antibiotics administered 48–96 h after the culture were analysed.


A total of 446 blood cultures positive for MSSA were included in the analysis. There was a distinct trend showing an increase in the percentage of penicillin-susceptible SA over 10 years from 13.2% (95% CI 4.1%–22.3%) in 2003 to 32.4% (95% CI 17.3%–47.5%) in 2012 (P trend <0.001). During the study period, penicillin use for penicillin-susceptible SA bacteraemia increased from 0.0% in 2003–04 to 50.0% in 2011–12 (P trend = 0.007).


Over a decade, there was an ∼3-fold increase in penicillin susceptibility among MSSA blood cultures at a large tertiary-care facility. Although treatment with penicillin increased over the study period, only 50% of penicillin-susceptible SA was treated with penicillin in the final study period. This study suggests that while susceptibility to penicillin appears to be returning in SA, the use of penicillin for penicillin-susceptible SA bacteraemia is low.

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