The success in the isolation of Staphylococcus aureus of different methods of sputum processing was investigated in 60 specimens collected from 14 patients with cystic fibrosis during a seven-month period. Fifty specimens (83%) from 11 patients yielded Staph. aureus by one or more methods. Direct plating of purulent portions of sputum on to media designed for general use in respiratory infections gave unsatisfactory results (35% yield of Staph. aureus). Some increase in isolations was obtained with preliminary liquefaction of sputum; but the best results were given by the addition of a medium selective for staphylococci (mannitol salt agar, BBL) or by initial sonication of sputum (each 83% yield). Seven of the 11 strains of Staph. aureus were thymidine-dependent and otherwise atypical in laboratory characteristics; these were isolated from patients who had received co-trimoxazole.
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