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Failure of levofloxacin treatment in community-acquired pneumococcal pneumonia

Andrea Endimiani1, Gioconda Brigante1, Alessia A Bettaccini1, Francesco Luzzaro1, Paolo Grossi2 and Antonio Q Toniolo1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Microbiology and Virology, University of Insubria and Ospedale di Circolo e Fondazione Macchi, Varese, Italy

2 Department of Infectious Diseases, University of Insubria and Ospedale di Circolo e Fondazione Macchi, Varese, Italy

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2005, 5:106  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-5-106

Published: 24 November 2005



Streptococcus pneumoniae is the leading cause of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). High global incidence of macrolide and penicillin resistance has been reported, whereas fluoroquinolone resistance is uncommon. Current guidelines for suspected CAP in patients with co-morbidity factors and recent antibiotic therapy recommend initial empiric therapy using one fluoroquinolone or one macrolide associated to other drugs (amoxicillin, amoxicillin/clavulanate, broad-spectrum cephalosporins). Resistance to fluoroquinolones is determined by efflux mechanisms and/or mutations in the parC and parE genes coding for topoisomerase IV and/or gyrA and gyrB genes coding for DNA gyrase. No clinical cases due to fluoroquinolone-resistant S. pneumoniae strains have been yet reported from Italy.

Case presentation

A 72-year-old patient with long history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and multiple fluoroquinolone treatments for recurrent lower respiratory tract infections developed fever, increased sputum production, and dyspnea. He was treated with oral levofloxacin (500 mg bid). Three days later, because of acute respiratory insufficiency, the patient was hospitalized. Levofloxacin treatment was supplemented with piperacillin/tazobactam. Microbiological tests detected a S. pneumoniae strain intermediate to penicillin (MIC, 1 mg/L) and resistant to macrolides (MIC >256 mg/L) and fluoroquinolones (MIC >32 mg/L). Point mutations were detected in gyrA (Ser81-Phe), parE (Ile460-Val), and parC gene (Ser79-Phe; Lys137-Asn). Complete clinical response followed treatment with piperacillin/tazobactam.


This is the first Italian case of community-acquired pneumonia due to a fluoroquinolone-resistant S. pneumoniae isolate where treatment failure of levofloxacin was documented. Molecular analysis showed a group of mutations that have not yet been reported from Italy and has been detected only twice in Europe. Treatment with piperacillin/tazobactam appears an effective means to inhibit fluoroquinolone-resistant strains of S. pneumoniae causing community-acquired pneumonia in seriously ill patients.