A collection of 802 isolates of Gram-negative bacteria causing urinary tract infections was made from general practice, antenatal clinics, and local hospitals. The organisms were tested for their sensitivity to chlorhexidine, cetrimide, glutaraldehyde, phenyl mercuric nitrate, a phenolic formulation, and a proprietary antiseptic containing a mixture of picloxydine, octyl phenoxy polyethoxyethanol, and benzalkonium chloride. Escherichia coli, the major species isolated, proved to be uniformly sensitive to these agents. Approximately 10% of the total number of isolates, however, exhibited a degree of resistance to the cationic agents. These resistant organisms were members of the genera Proteus, Providencia, and Pseudomonas; they were also generally resistant to five, six, or seven antibiotics. It is proposed therefore that an antiseptic policy which involves the intensive use of cationic antiseptics might lead to the selection of a flora of notoriously drug-resistant species.
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