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Clinical implications of penicillin and ceftriaxone resistance among children with pneumococcal bacteremia


The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal: January 1999 - Volume 18 - Issue 1 - p 35-41
Original Studies

Objectives. To determine whether reduced penicillin or ceftriaxone susceptibility affects clinical presentation and outcome in children with pneumococcal bacteremia.

Design. Retrospective review of patients with Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteremia.

Results. We reviewed 922 cases of pneumococcal bacteremia. Of 744 isolates with known penicillin (PCN) susceptibilities 56 were PCN-nonsusceptible. The majority displayed intermediate resistance; 14 of 730 isolates with known ceftriaxone (CTX) susceptibilities were CTX-nonsusceptible. Neither the PCN- nor the CTX-nonsusceptible cohort displayed a difference from its susceptible counterpart in temperature, respiratory rate or white blood cell count on initial patient evaluation, although trend suggested they were more often admitted at the initial visit. At follow-up only children treated initially with antibiotic were evaluated. Children with PCN-nonsusceptible isolates were no more likely to be febrile than those with PCN-susceptible isolates (28% vs. 25%, P = 0.61) and were no more likely to have a positive repeat blood culture (0% vs. 1%, P = 0.59) or a new focal infection (10% vs. 6%, P = 0.79). Data concerning CTX-nonsusceptible organisms were limited by the low number of such isolates. Although patients with CTX-nonsusceptible pneumococci were more likely to be febrile at follow-up than those with CTX-susceptible organisms (67% vs. 24%, P = 0.04), we were unable to demonstrate a significant difference for other endpoints.

Conclusions. Reduced antibiotic susceptibility does not alter the clinical presentation of pneumococcal bacteremia. With current practice intermediate resistance to PCN is of little clinical significance in nonmeningitic systemic pneumococcal infections.

From the Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle, WA (MS), and the Divisions of Emergency Medicine (RB) and Infectious Diseases (MBH), Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.

Accepted for publication Oct. 7, 1998.

Presented in part at the 37th Annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Toronto, Canada, September 28 to October 1, 1997.

Address for reprints: Marvin B. Harper M.D., 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. Fax 617-355-6625; E-mail

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.