Comparison of minimum inhibitory concentration by broth microdilution testing versus standard disc diffusion testing in the detection of penicillin, erythromycin and ciprofloxacin resistance in viridans group streptococci

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The aim of this study was to investigate the reliability of disc diffusion testing with penicillin, erythromycin and ciprofloxacin within the viridans group streptococci (VGS). In total, the antibiotic susceptibilities of 167 VGS isolates were compared by standard disc diffusion and broth microdilution methods, and these phenotypic data were compared to the carriage of the respective gene resistance determinants [ermB and mefA/E (macrolides); QRDR, gyrA, gyrB, parC and parE (quinolones)]. Overall, there were 35 discrepancies [resistant by MIC and susceptible by zone diameter (21.0 %)] between MIC and disc diameter when penicillin susceptibility was interpreted by Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute criteria. Scattergrams showed a bimodal distribution between non-susceptible and susceptible strains when erythromycin susceptibility was tested by both methods. Thirty-four (20.4 %) isolates were categorized as resistant by MIC breakpoints, while disc diameter defined these as having intermediate resistance. With ciprofloxacin, three isolates (1.8 %) showed minor discrepancies between MIC breakpoints and disc diameter. Isolates non-susceptible to all three antimicrobial agents tested were reliably distinguished from susceptible isolates by disc diffusion testing, except for the detection of low-level resistance to penicillin, where broth microdilution or an alternative quantitative MIC method should be used. Otherwise, we conclude that disc diffusion testing is a reliable method to detect strains of VGS non-susceptible to penicillin, erythromycin and ciprofloxacin, as demonstrated with their concordance to their gene resistance characteristics.

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