Susceptibility of Haemophilus influenzae clinical isolates to ampicillin reported by 23 laboratories, using a variety of methods, was compared with results obtained following retesting at The London Hospital Medical College. Beta lactamase production was not detected on initial isolation in 25 of 157 isolates (16%) found to be positive on retest. One hundred beta lactamase negative isolates, which gave reduced zone diameters (less than 20 mm) around 2 micrograms discs and required 1-64 mg/l ampicillin for inhibition, were detected at The London Hospital. Eighty five of these had been reported as sensitive to ampicillin by the laboratories of origin. Many of these 100 isolates showed reduced susceptibility to other beta lactam antibiotics. Accurate detection of non-enzymic reduced susceptibility to ampicillin may emerge as an important guide to the likely sensitivity of H influenzae isolates to the enzyme stable beta lactams.
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