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Adult bacterial conjunctivitis: resistance patterns over 12 years in patients attending a large primary eye care centre in the UK
  1. Alexander Silvester1,
  2. Timothy Neal2,
  3. Gabriela Czanner3,
  4. Michael Briggs1,
  5. Simon Harding3,
  6. Stephen Kaye1
  1. 1St Paul’s Eye Unit, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool, UK
  2. 2Department of Medical Microbiology, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool, UK
  3. 3Department of Eye and Vision Science, Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alexander Silvester;,%C2%A0alexandersilvester{at}


Purpose To determine whether there was a change in the resistance pattern of bacteria isolated from cases of conjunctivitis following the introduction of over-the-counter availability of chloramphenicol in 2005.

Design and setting Retrospective review of laboratory records for adult patients with suspected bacterial conjunctivitis between 2001 and 2012 attending the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

Participants Patients with suspected bacterial conjunctivitis. Organisms were identified by standard laboratory methods. Scanty growth and normal flora were considered as a negative result. For positive results, susceptibility testing was undertaken as per British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy guidelines.

Main outcome measures Prevalence of groups of bacteria associated with acute conjunctivitis and their resistance to chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, gentamicin, and methicillin.

Results A total of 8209 conjunctival swabs were reviewed; 1300 (15.8%) were considered positive, of which 977 (75.2%) and 323 (24.8%) bacteria were identified as Gram positive and Gram negative, respectively. Staphylococcus aureus was the most prevalent organism identified. Resistance of all bacterial isolates to chloramphenicol was 8.4% varying from 3.0% to 16.4% while that for ciprofloxacin and gentamicin was 16.4% and 14.0%, respectively. Methicillin resistance among S. aureus was 8.3%.

Conclusion Resistance to chloramphenicol has remained stable since being made available over the counter. Among Gram-positive bacteria, the most prevalent causative agent of bacterial conjunctivitis, chloramphenicol sensitivity remains high.

  • conjunctivitis chloramphenicol resistance
  • MRSA

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