Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Gentamicin- and silver-resistant pseudomonas in a burns unit.

Br Med J 1979; 1 doi: (Published 17 February 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;1:446
  1. K Bridges,
  2. A Kidson,
  3. E J Lowbury,
  4. M D Wilkins


    In 1977-8 gentamicin-resistant strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa became very common in a burns unit, over 90% being resistant at the peak of the outbreak. Some strains were also resistant to silver nitrate, though silver resistance was not found in any other strains of Ps aeruginosa isolated. Unlike the gentamicin resistance, the silver resistance was unstable, and strains became sensitive on repeated subculture. All the gentamicin-resistant strains of Ps aeruginosa were of the same serotype (O:11, H:2,5). Though gentamicin resistance could be transferred in vitro from resistant strains of Ps aeruginosa to one sensitive strain of Ps aeruginosa, there was no evidence of in-vivo transfer of gentamicin resistance between strains of pseudomonas in the patients' burns, nor was there evidence of transfer of gentamicin resistance between Ps aeruginosa and enterobacteria. Carbenicillin-resistant and gentamicin-resistant Ps aeruginosa were sometimes found in the same burns, but no gentamicin-carbenicillin (doubly) resistant strains were found among the 986 strains tested during the outbreak. The outbreak of gentamicin-resistant Ps aeruginosa from burns was not reduced by stopping treatment with gentamicin and its analogues but only by segregating all patients with Ps aeruginosa in one of the two wards of the unit and admitting new patients only to the other ward.