Aim: Staphylococcus aureus is an important cause of serious illness in children. Antibiotic resistance is an international problem and affects initial antibiotic choice. We aimed to describe susceptibility patterns of S. aureus isolates from Australian children to inform optimal empiric treatment of staphylococcal infections in this population.
Methods: We analysed susceptibility data for all S. aureus isolates from children at Australian tertiary paediatric hospitals in 2006. Susceptibility rates were compared between hospitals and states, and with published studies of S. aureus isolates from Australian adults.
Results: Overall, the proportion of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) in Australian children was low (9.8%), and in each state it was less than for the comparable adult population. There were significant differences in susceptibility patterns between different states. Most MRSA isolates were susceptible to clindamycin (73%) and all isolates were reported as susceptible to vancomycin. Susceptibility patterns for isolates from bacteraemic patients were similar to those for isolates from all patients.
Conclusions: These data support current Australian recommendations for the use of flucloxacillin or a first-generation cephalosporin as initial treatment of non-life-threatening staphylococcal infections. However, broad spectrum antibiotic therapy including agents that are effective against MRSA should be considered for more serious infections. Appropriate specimens should be collected for susceptibility testing to enable directed treatment for MRSA and other resistant organisms. This study highlights the importance of using local, age-specific data in planning antibiotic treatment guidelines, as results vary substantially from city to city and between adults and children.