Background: Antimicrobial-resistant Shigella sonnei is a growing problem in the United States and poses treatment challenges particularly among children. Azithromycin is recommended as an alternative oral agent for shigellosis.
Methods: All isolates of Shigella submitted to Johns Hopkins clinical laboratory during the outbreak year (2002) were compared with a historical comparison group (1996–2000). Isolates were considered multiresistant if they were resistant to ampicillin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TS). Selected outbreak and reference isolates were tested for azithromycin susceptibility by E-test, disk diffusion and broth dilution methods.
Results: Between 1996–2000, among the 111 isolates submitted, 63% were from pediatric patients; 63% of isolates were resistant to ampicillin and 12% to TS. In 2002, among the 205 isolates submitted, 82% were from pediatric patients; 91% isolates were resistant to ampicillin and 67% to TS. The proportion of multiresistant isolates increased from 6% in 1996 to 65% in 2002 (P < 0.05). Azithromycin susceptibility by E-test and disk diffusion demonstrated 2 zones of inhibition for S. sonnei. Interpretation using the inner zone resulted in higher MICs (minimal inhibitory concentration) compared with the outer zones by E-test (P < 0.0001) and disk diffusion (P < 0.0001).
Conclusions: With increasing interest in using azithromycin for shigellosis, clinical laboratories should be aware of the interpretation difficulty caused by the dual-zone phenomenon seen with E-test and disk diffusion methods for S. sonnei.
From the *Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, the †Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, and the ‡Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Accepted for publication December 21, 2004.
Address for reprints: Sanjay K. Jain, MD, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 600 N. Wolfe Street, Park 256, Baltimore, MD 21287. Fax 410-614-1491; E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.