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We have measured the in-vitro activity of 27 antimicrobials against 211 clinical and ten reference strains of Pseudomonas pseudomallei. Imipenem was the most active antibiotic tested, followed by piperacillin, doxycycline, amoxycillin/clavulanic acid, cefixime, cefetamet, azlocillin and ceftazidime, all of which had MICs of less than or equal to 2 mg/l for the majority of strains. The measured MICs were dependent on the media and inocula used, to an extent which varied with the antibiotic class under test; MICs of ureidopenicillins were particularly inoculum-dependent. The beta-lactams and ciprofloxacin were bactericidal, whereas the agents conventionally used to treat melioidosis (doxycycline, chloramphenicol, sulphamethoxazole and trimethoprim) had bacteriostatic activity only. Strains highly resistant to chloramphenicol (MIC greater than or equal to 256 mg/l) emerged during treatment in 7.1% of patients. These strains were fully virulent, and frequently showed cross-resistance to tetracyclines, sulphamethoxazole, trimethoprim and ciprofloxacin, with paradoxical increased susceptibility to beta-lactams and aminoglycosides. Similar resistance patterns were seen in mutants generated in vitro and two reference strains. One strain with isolated ceftazidime resistance, reversible by clavulanic acid, emerged during treatment. Several of the new beta-lactam antibiotics are of potential value in the therapy of P. pseudomallei infections. Patients should be carefully monitored for the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains during treatment of melioidosis.

Original publication




Journal article


J Antimicrob Chemother

Publication Date





295 - 309


Anti-Bacterial Agents, Ceftazidime, Chloramphenicol, Culture Media, Drug Resistance, Microbial, Melioidosis, Microbial Sensitivity Tests, Mutation, Pseudomonas, Quality Control