Anaerobic bacteria are the predominant indigenous flora of humans and, as a result, play an important role in infections, some of which are serious with a high mortality rate. These opportunistic pathogens are frequently missed in cultures of clinical samples because of shortcomings in collection and transport procedures as well as lack of isolation and susceptibility testing of anaerobes in many clinical microbiology laboratories. Correlation of clinical failures with known antibacterial resistance of anaerobic bacteria is seldom possible. Changes in resistance over time, and the discovery and characterization of resistance determinants in anaerobic bacteria, has in- creased recognition of problems in empirical treatment and has even resulted in changes in treatment guidelines. This review discusses the role of anaerobic bacteria in the normal flora of humans, their involvement in different mixed infections, developments in antibacterial resistance of the most frequent anaerobic pathogens and possible new treatment options.
Table I. The most frequent anaerobic genera as members of the normal flora at different body sites
Table II. Major sites of anaerobic infections
Table III. Resistance trends in Bacteroides fragilis group isolates in different parts of the world