Infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria: a review of the global challenge

Neil Woodford, David M. Livermore

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339 Citations (Scopus)


Infections caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-positive bacteria represent a major public health burden, not just in terms of morbidity and mortality, but also in terms of increased expenditure on patient management and implementation of infection control measures. Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus spp. are established pathogens in the hospital environment, and their frequent multidrug resistance complicates therapy. The archetypal hospital "superbug", methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), regularly attracts mass-media interest and, in many countries, there is political pressure to reduce MRSA infection rates, with some progress now being made in the United Kingdom and the United States. To compound these established problems, we have witnessed the emergence and spread of virulent clones of MRSA in the community, and of Clostridium difficile in hospitals. Multidrug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae clones are major community pathogens in many parts of the world, but are now being challenged by new conjugate vaccines. Using combinations of molecular epidemiological tools, which characterize the resistant isolates and their resistance determinants, scientists can track highly successful bacterial strains at local, national, and international levels. These methods have provided new insights into the evolution of key pathogens, and this information may aid the design of control strategies and vaccines. In addition, the development of new antimicrobials including oxazolidinones, lipopeptides, glycylcyclines, ketolides, and new generations of fluoroquinolones, antistaphylococcal b-lactams, and glycopeptides must remain a high priority for the continued effective treatment of infections caused by resistant strains. So far, resistance to these newer agents is identified rarely in surveillance programs, but occasional reports of resistance causing therapeutic failure (e.g., with linezolid, daptomycin, telithromycin, or newer fluoroquinolones) give cause for concern. The emergence of antibiotic resistance is inevitable, but we must seek to decrease its impact and prolong the effectiveness of the agents available to us.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S4-S16
Number of pages13
JournalThe Journal of Infection
Issue numberSuppl 1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009

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