What is AGAR?

AGAR is a unique collaboration of clinicians and scientists from major microbiology laboratories around Australia. AGAR tests and gathers information on the level of antibiotic resistance in bacteria causing important and life threatening infections. The group started in 1985 and at that time involved 13 teaching hospitals. It has subsequently grown to involve 31 institutions including 4 private laboratories. This broadening of the group has meant that not only does the group have good information as to what is happening with major pathogens in the larger teaching hospitals in each State and Territory, but now also has the ability to monitor what is happening with resistance rates in private hospitals.

 

Historically, the main focus of the group has been antimicrobial resistance in Staphylococcus aureus (indeed the group started with the name The Staph. Awareness Group) and was broadened to include studies on E. coli, Enterobacter spp., Klebsiella spp., Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Enterococcus spp.

 

AGAR now focuses on bloodstream infections with three major programmes:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (ASSOP - Australian Staphylococcal Sepsis Outcome Program)
  • Enterococcus spp. (AESOP - Australian Enterococcal Sepsis Outcome Program)
  • Enterobacteriaceae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter spp. (GNSOP - Gram negative Sepsis Outcome Program)

 

AGAR is now a working group of the Australian Society for Antimicrobials (ASA) www.asainc.net.au
and three Program Commitees have been formed.
ASSOP - Chair: Ben Howden
AESOP- Chair: Paul Johnson
GNSOP - Chair: John Turnidge
 
The role of the working groups is:
  • a key advisory role ensuring the highest quality of results
  • analysis of the demographic data with the aim of producing peer reviewed publications
  • organisation of additional research activities related to the surveillance program
  • providing scientific advice to the AGAR Executive
  • assisting with the July AGAR Committee Meeting Program

 

By standardised methodology AGAR has been able to collect ongoing data on what is happening in this country over long periods of time. The group has also been very successful in being able to make this information available to the broader community both through publications in scientific journals and also numerous presentations at meetings and to groups around Australia and Internationally (see Publications). This has led to important benefits within Australia. Among these benefits has been the ability to allow more rational use of antibiotics based on known Australia wide resistance patterns.

 

This group is very grateful to Eli Lilly who from 1985 to 2002 provided sufficient funding for the group to meet on a regular basis so that these projects can be planned and implemented. We are grateful to the Australian Commonwealth Government for providing funds since 2004. None of this work would have been possible had it not been for the Microbiology Laboratories involved who have donated their time and resources.

 

Thanks must also go to Dade Diagnostics Australia, who provided AGAR with investigational panels for testing Gram negative bacilli until 2004, bioMerieux for providing Vitek cards for surveys since 2006 and Wyeth, Novartis and MSD Australia for generously supplying the group with Etest strips for many projects.