During a two-year period from January 1979, 260 patients have been involved in an outbreak of carriage and infection due to gentamicin-resistant enterobacteria. We have examined the duration of carriage of such enterobacteria and have compared the carriage of Klebsiella with that of other resistant enterobacteria. Carriage of gentamicin-resistant enterobacteria occurred most frequently and was least sporadic in the intestinal tract. Vaginal carriage was observed in 49 out of 68 patients tested and occurred more frequently in older patients. Oral carriage was noted in 36% of patients but was more sporadic than intestinal carriage. Rates of oral carriage were greater among moribund patients. Carriage at skin sites was related to their proximity to the perineum. Intestinal carriage of gentamicin-resistant Escherichia coli and Klebsiellae but not Klebsiella oxytoca nor Citrobacter persisted for long periods (half lives of 140 and 100 days respectively). Cessation of carriage of gentamicin-resistant Klebsiellae was due to loss of both the organism and its plasmid rather than a shedding of the plasmid. Chronic bacteriuria with gentamicin-resistant E coli and Klebsiellae (half life 180 days) but not Klebsiella oxytoca nor Citrobacter persisted for long periods.
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