Multicenter Evaluation of a Modified Cefoxitin Disk Diffusion Method and PBP2a Testing To Predict mecA-Mediated Oxacillin Resistance in Atypical Staphylococcus aureus
Phenotypic variants of Staphylococcus aureus that display small colonies, reduced pigmentation, and decreased hemolysis and/or coagulase activity are periodically isolated by the clinical laboratory. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) of these isolates is complicated, because many do not grow on routine AST media, including Mueller-Hinton agar (MHA) and cation-adjusted Mueller-Hinton broth. This multicenter study evaluated cefoxitin disk diffusion for 37 atypical S. aureus isolates (156 readings) with MHA supplemented with 5% sheep's blood (BMHA), using mecA PCR as the reference standard. The correlation of two commercial PBP2a assays with mecA PCR was also assessed. Ten isolates were negative and 27 positive for mecA . No major errors for cefoxitin were observed, but 19.5% very major errors (VMEs) were observed at 24 h of incubation, and 17.2% VMEs were observed at 48 h. The proportions of VMEs ranged from 14.7 to 23.0% at 24 h, and from 13.3 to 17.6% at 48 h, across three testing laboratories. PBP2a tests were performed from growth on BMHA and blood agar plates (BAP), with and without cefoxitin disk induction. The Alere PBP2a SA culture colony test sensitivities for mecA were 90.0% with uninduced growth and 97.4% with induced growth from BMHA. On BAP, sensitivity was 96.0% with induced growth. The sensitivities of the Oxoid PBP2′ latex agglutination test were 85.7% with uninduced growth and 93.9% with induced growth from BMHA and 95.9% with induced growth on BAP. On the basis of these data, we recommend that laboratories perform only mecA PCR and/or PBP2a tests when requested to perform AST on atypical isolates of S. aureus .
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