Emergence of multiply resistant pneumococci

N Engl J Med. 1978 Oct 5;299(14):735-40. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197810052991402.


Multiple antimicrobial resistance in pneumococci was detected in Johannesburg in July, 1977, and prompted an investigation of the prevalence of resistant strains in two hospitals. Carriers of Types 6A and 19A penicillin-resistant pneumococci, resistant to antibiotic concentrations ranging between 0.12 and 4 microgram per milliliter were found in 29 per cent of 543 pediatric patients and 2 per cent of 434 hospital staff members. Multiply resistant Type 19A strains, resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics, erythromycin, clindamycin, tetracycline and chloramphenicol, were isolated from 128 carriers, and were responsible for bacteremia in four patients. Isolates from 40 other carriers were resistant to penicillin alone or to penicillin and chloramphenicol or to penicillin, chloramphenicol and tetracycline. Pneumococci can be screened for penicillin resistance with a modified Kirby--Bauer technic; the strains with zones of less than 35 mm around 6-microgram penicillin disks or less than 25 mm around 5-microgram methicillin disks should be tested for sensitivity to penicillin by measurements of minimum inhibitory concentration.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Carrier State / drug therapy
  • Carrier State / epidemiology
  • Carrier State / microbiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / methods
  • Pneumococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Pneumococcal Infections / epidemiology
  • Pneumococcal Infections / microbiology
  • South Africa
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / drug effects*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / isolation & purification


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents