European Journal of Clinical Microbiology

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 399–404 | Cite as

Emergence of beta-lactamase producing anaerobic bacteria in the tonsils during penicillin treatment

  • K. Tunér
  • C. E. Nord


The emergence of beta-lactamase producing bacteria in the microflora in the oropharyngeal cavity was studied in ten healthy volunteers treated with 1 g phenoxymethylpenicillin b.i.d. for ten days. Beta-lactamase activity in saliva was also investigated. A significant increase in the number of beta-lactamase producing strains ofBacteroidesspecies andFusobacterium nucleatumwas observed. One beta-lactamase producingStaphylococcus aureusstrain was recovered in one of the volunteers before the penicillin administration started and threeStaphylococcus aureusstrains produced beta-lactamase after ten days of antibiotic treatment. Beta-lactamase-production inHaemophilus influenzae, Haemophilus parainfluenzaeorBranhamella catarrhaliswas not observed before, during or after the antibiotic treatment. Beta-lactamase activity was noted in the broth cultures from one volunteer colonized with a beta-lactamase producingEscherichia colistrain. Beta-lactamase activity in saliva was observed in all volunteers, the activity increasing significantly in parallel to the increase of betalactamase producing bacterial strains. Beta-lactamase activity in saliva was completely inhibited in vitro by clavulanic acid and p-chloromercurbenzoate and about 70–80 per cent of the activity was inhibited by cefoxitin. The increase of beta-lactamase producing bacteria in the oropharynx as a consequence of penicillin treatment raises doubt as to whether penicillin is the drug of choice in the treatment of tonsillitis caused by group A streptococci when previous treatment has failed.


Internal Medicine Penicillin Healthy Volunteer Bacterial Strain Antibiotic Treatment 
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Copyright information

© Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn Verlagsgesellschaft mbH 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Tunér
    • 1
  • C. E. Nord
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Clinical MicrobiologyHuddinge University Hospital, Karolinska InstituteHuddingeSweden
  2. 2.National Bacteriological LaboratoryStockholmSweden

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