Staphylococcus aureus isolated between 1967 and 1975 from the nose and skin lesions of patients in dermatology wards and from the burns of patients in a burns unit in Birmingham showed a high incidence of multiple antibiotic-resistant strains in both environments. Over 20% of the strains isolated from patients on admission to the dermatology wards were multiresistant. Resistance to benzylpenicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin, and fusidic acid was common in the dermatology wards; a smaller proportion of strains were resistant to lincomycin, and few (since 1972 none) were resistant to methicillin; resistance to novobiocin and chloramphenicol was uncommon. In the burns unit, fusidic acid resistance was uncommon, but resistance to benzylpenicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin, novobiocin, neomycin, methicilin, and lincomycin was common. Several of the antibiotics to which resistance was common in the burns unit were rarely if ever used there; strains resistant to these antibiotics probably remained common in the ward through the frequent use of other antibiotics, especially erythromycin, to which these strains were also resistant.
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