Between Dec. 1992 and Aug. 1993, the MRSA population in the Federated Dublin Voluntary Hospitals and St James's Hospital group was studied with an antibiogram-resistogram (AR) typing scheme in which AR patterns were determined by testing susceptibility to 22 antibiotics and chemicals by a modified Stokes' disk diffusion technique. The typing scheme divided this MRSA population into 31 AR types but 90% of isolates belonged to seven types. Isolates belonging to the most frequently occurring types (AR types 13 and 14) differed only in their reaction to lincomycin (or clindamycin) and could not be distinguished by phage typing, plasmid profiling or restriction endonuclease analysis. The AR typing scheme showed that the incidence of different AR types varied in different hospitals and changed during the study period. This typing method differentiated a strain of MRSA responsible for a nosocomial outbreak in an intensive care unit from other MRSA isolated in the unit, and has distinguished imported strains from local ones. In one hospital, AR typing showed that, although a major outbreak occurred with one AR type, there was also a series of smaller outbreaks with other AR types. The technique can be performed in the diagnostic laboratory and results were available within 24 h.


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