Over a recent 22 month period, 222 patients in two adjacent hospitals became infected with a multiply antibiotic-resistant strain of Serratia marcescens; 13 were bacteremic. Nineteen patients with clinically significant infections received amikacin. Nine of 11 patients with urinary tract infections were cured. In contrast, only one of eight patients with pneumonia or other deep tissue infections was cured, and four died. These eight patients were severely ill; many had infections with multiple microorganisms. In four of five patients in whom the infection failed to clear promptly, Serratia strains became increasingly resistant to amikacin during therapy and these strains contributed to the death of two of these patients. Amikacin proved useful in treating patients with infections due to gentamicin-resistant S. marcescens organisms, especially urinary tract infections. However, the capacity of some strains of S. marcescens to develop resistance to amikacin may limit the usefulness of this antibiotic in the treatment of deep tissue infections which involve this microorganism.
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