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1.  Molecular epidemiology of tuberculosis in Sicily, Italy: what has changed after a decade? 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14(1):602.
Background
We aimed to investigate the molecular epidemiology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) isolates in the province of Palermo, Sicily, Italy, by characterizing 183 isolates identified in the years 2004–2012. A comparison with 104 MTBC strains identified in the same geographic area in the years 1994–2000 was also carried out.
Methods
One hundred eighty-three MTBC isolates identified in Palermo, Italy, in the years 2004–2012 were analyzed by spoligotyping and the 24 mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit (MIRU)-variable-number tandem-repeat (VNTR) method typing. Susceptibility testing to streptomycin, isoniazid, rifampin and ethambutol was also performed. Furthermore, the spoligotyping dataset obtained from 104 MTBC isolates identified from 1994 to 2000 was reanalyzed. Distribution into lineages and clustering of isolates in the two periods was compared.
Results
One hundred seventy-seven out of the 183 isolates of MTBC submitted to molecular typing were fully characterized. Of these, 108 were from Italian-born and 69 from foreign-born individuals. Eleven different lineages and 35 families-subfamilies were identified with the most represented lineages being Haarlem (26.5%), T (19.2%), LAM (13.6%) and S (8.5%). Except for the Haarlem lineage, where isolates from foreign-born patients were overrepresented, the distribution of isolates in the families belonging to the Euro-American clone reflected the proportions of the two subpopulations. A total of 27 (15.2%) strains were clustered and three clusters were mixed. Approximately 25% of the 183 MTBC isolates under study proved to be resistant to at least one antiTB drug, with only three isolates categorized as multidrug resistant (MDR). When MTBC isolates identified in the years 1994–2000 were reanalyzed, lineages T (30.8%), LAM (29.8%), Haarlem (16.3%) and S (13.5%) proved to be predominant. No MTBC isolates belonging to CAM, U, CAS, Turkish and Ural lineages were identified.
Conclusions
A wide heterogeneity was detected among the MTBC strains isolated in the years 2004–2012. Six lineages were not present among the isolates of the period 1994–2000. Comparison between distribution of lineages in the two consecutive periods depicts rapid and deep changes in the TB epidemiology in Palermo, Italy. An universal and continued laboratory-based surveillance of TB in Sicily is required.
doi:10.1186/s12879-014-0602-4
PMCID: PMC4241219  PMID: 25407589
Tuberculosis; Sicily; Epidemiology; Spoligotyping; MIRU-VNTR
3.  Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Colonization: A Three-Year Prospective Study in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Italy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87760.
Background
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a major etiological agent of infection in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Routes of entry of this organism can be different and the transmission pathway complex. Colonized neonates are the main endogenous reservoir.
Methods and Results
We conducted a prospective three-year study on MRSA colonization recruiting 722 neonates admitted between 2009 and 2012. Nasal swabs were cultured weekly and MRSA isolates were submitted to molecular typing. The annual incidence density of acquisition of MRSA ranged from a maximum of 20.2 cases for 1000 patient-days during the first year to a minimum of 8.8 cases in the second one to raise again up to 13.1 cases during the third year. The mean weekly colonization pressure fluctuated from 19.1% in the first year to 13.4% in the second year and 16.8% in the third year. It significantly correlated with the number of MRSA acquisitions in the following week. Overall, 187 (25.9%) subjects tested positive for MRSA. A non multiresistant, tst positive, ST22-MRSA-IVa spa t223 strain proved to be endemic in the NICU, being identified in 166 (88.8%) out of 187 colonized neonates. Sporadic or epidemic occurrence of other strains was detected.
Conclusions
An MRSA strain belonging to the tst1 positive, UK-EMRSA-15/ “Middle Eastern Variant” appeared to be endemic in the NICU under investigation. During the three-year period, substantial changes occurred in case-mix of patients moving towards a higher susceptibility to MRSA colonization. The infection control procedures were able to decrease the colonization rate from more than 40% to approximately 10%, except for an outbreak due to a CA-MRSA strain, ST1-MRSA-IVa, and a transient increase in the colonization prevalence rate coincident with a period of substantial overcrowding of the ward. Active surveillance and molecular typing contributed to obtain a reliable picture of the MRSA dissemination in NICU.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087760
PMCID: PMC3914835  PMID: 24505312
4.  Enhanced surveillance of invasive listeriosis in the Lombardy region, Italy, in the years 2006-2010 reveals major clones and an increase in serotype 1/2a 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:152.
Background
Invasive listeriosis is a rare, life-threatening foodborne disease. Lombardy, an Italian region accounting for 16% of the total population, reported 55% of all listeriosis cases in the years 2006-2010. The aim of our study was to provide a snapshot of listeriosis epidemiology in this region after the implementation of a voluntary laboratory-based surveillance system.
Methods
We characterized by serotyping, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, multilocus sequence typing and detection of epidemic clone markers, 134 isolates from 132 listeriosis cases, including 15 pregnancy-related cases, occurring in the years 2006-2010 in Lombardy. Demographic and clinical characteristics of cases have also been described.
Results
The mean age of non pregnancy-associated cases was 64.7 years, with 55.9% of cases being older than 65 years. Cases having no underlying medical conditions accounted for 11.6%. The all-cause fatality rate of 83 cases with a known survival outcome was 25.3%.
Serotypes 1/2a and 4b comprised 52.2% and 38.8% of isolates, respectively. Seventy-three AscI pulsotypes and 25 sequence types assigned to 23 clonal complexes were recognized. Moreover, 53 (39.5%) isolates tested positive for the epidemic clone markers. Twelve molecular subtype clusters including at least three isolates were detected, with cluster 11 (1/2a/ST38) including 31 isolates identified during the entire study period. No outbreaks were notified to public health authorities during this period.
Conclusions
The findings of our study proved that epidemiology of listeriosis in Lombardy is characterized by a high prevalence of major clones and the increasing role of serotype 1/2a. Molecular subtyping is an essential tool in the epidemiology and surveillance of listeriosis. Rapid molecular cluster detection could alert about putative outbreaks, thus increasing the chance of detecting and inactivating routes of transmission.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-152
PMCID: PMC3616957  PMID: 23530941
5.  Outbreak of colonizations by extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing Escherichia coli sequence type 131 in a neonatal intensive care unit, Italy 
Background
Extended spectrum β-lactamases (ESBLs) often associated with resistance to aminoglycosides and fluoroquinolones have recently emerged in community-associated Escherichia coli. The worldwide clonal dissemination of E. coli sequence type (ST)131 is playing a prominent role.
We describe an outbreak of colonizations by ESBL-producing E. coli (ESBL-E. coli) in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of the University Hospital, Palermo, Italy.
Methods
An epidemiological investigation was conducted with the support of molecular typing. All children admitted to the NICU and colonized by ESBL-E. coli between January and June 2012, were included in the study. Cases were defined as infants colonized by E. coli resistant to third generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones. A case–control study was also performed to identify possible risk factors.
Results
During the outbreak period, 15 infants were found to be colonized by ESBL-E. coli. The epidemic strain demonstrated continuous transmission throughout the outbreak period. Case–control study identified a lower birth weight as the only risk factor for colonization. The strain belonged to the sequence-type 131 community-associated clone. Transmission control interventions, including contact precautions and cohorting, restriction of the new admissions, sanitization of surfaces and equipment and targeted training sessions of the NICU staff, were successful in interrupting the outbreak.
Conclusions
Although invasive infections did not develop in any of the 15 colonized neonates, our report highlights the need to strictly monitor the spill in the NICU setting of multidrug resistant community-associated organisms. Our findings confirm also the role of active surveillance in detecting the silent spread of ESBL-producing Gram negatives in a critical healthcare setting and trigging the implementation of infection control measures. As β-lactam and fluoroquinolone resistant E. coli strains are increasingly spreading in the community, this event could become a more serious challenge.
doi:10.1186/2047-2994-2-8
PMCID: PMC3614428  PMID: 23517816
ESBL-Escherichia coli; ST131; NICU; Epidemiology
6.  OXA-163-Producing Klebsiella pneumoniae in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009 and 2010 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(7):2489-2491.
Two genetically unrelated OXA-163-carrying Klebsiella pneumoniae strains were identified from two infection cases in June 2009 and May 2010 in Cairo, Egypt. OXA-163-producing Enterobacteriaceae had been previously reported in Argentina only. Both patients had no history of travel abroad. The emergence of this newly recognized OXA-48-related β-lactamase able to hydrolyze cephalosporins and carbapenems is especially worrying in a geographic area where OXA-48 is endemic and effective surveillance for antibiotic resistance is largely unaffordable.
doi:10.1128/JCM.06710-11
PMCID: PMC3405599  PMID: 22518851
7.  Probable disseminated Mycobacterium abscessus subspecies bolletii infection in a patient with idiopathic CD4+ T lymphocytopenia: a case report 
Introduction
Rapidly growing mycobacteria are opportunistic pathogens in patients with underlying risk factors. Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. bolletii is a newly recognized member of rapidly growing mycobacteria, isolated from respiratory tract and cutaneous infections.
Case presentation
We describe a case of chronic disseminated infection caused by M. abscessus subsp. bolletii in a 38-year-old Sri Lankan man with idiopathic CD4+ T lymphocytopenia. Idiopathic CD4+ T lymphocytopenia is a rare cause of immunodysfunction that, similar to human immunodeficiency virus infection, causes a depletion of CD4+ T lymphocytes. M. abscessus subsp. bolletii infection was diagnosed by culture isolation from two sputum samples.
Conclusions
To the best of our knowledge this is the first report of M. abscessus subsp. bolletii disseminated infection in a patient affected by idiopathic CD4+ T lymphocytopenia. In contrast to previous reports, the isolate of M. abscessus subsp. bolletii presented intermediate resistance to clarithromycin and was susceptible to cefoxitin and imipenem.
doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-277
PMCID: PMC3514384  PMID: 22947084
CD4+ T lymphocytopenia; Clarithromycin; Disseminated infection; Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. bolletii rapidly growing mycobacteria
8.  Epidemiology and clonality of carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii from an intensive care unit in Palermo, Italy 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:365.
Background
Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii, initially considered as having a poor clinical relevance, is frequently isolated from infection cases in intensive care units. We describe the epidemiology of carbapenem resistant A. baumannii (CRAB) in a general ICU in Palermo, Italy, from October 2010 to March 2011.
Findings
58 of 61 isolates exhibited MICs for meropenem or imipenem ≥16 mg/L. Forty-nine carried blaOXA-23 and two blaOXA-58 genes.
Five subtype clusters were detected by rep-PCR. Clusters D and E included 10 isolates that tested negative for the carbapenem resistance genes. MLST attributed all isolates, but two, with sequence type (ST)2, whereas the two remaining isolates with ST78.
The respiratory tract was the most common site of infection (26 out of 36 cases. 72.2%). A high infection related mortality rate was observed (18 out of 35 patients, 51.4%). Nineteen patients tested positive for other multidrug resistant organisms in addition to CRAB. In eight cases isolates belonging to distinct subtype clusters and/or with distinct carbapenemase profiles were identified.
Conclusions
Carbapenem resistance was prominently driven by the dissemination of CRAB isolates belonging to ST2, carrying the carbapenemase gene blaOXA-23. The colonization/infection of some patients by multiple strains is suggestive of an endemic circulation of CRAB.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-365
PMCID: PMC3410802  PMID: 22818424
9.  Polyclonal non multiresistant methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates from clinical cases of infection occurring in Palermo, Italy, during a one-year surveillance period 
Background
The evolving epidemiology of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is characterized by the emergence of infections caused by non multiresistant MRSA carrying staphylococcal chromosomal cassette (SCC)mec IV or V in the healthcare settings. A molecular epidemiological analysis of non multiresistant MRSA isolates from four acute general hospitals was performed in Palermo, Italy, during a one year period.
Methods
For the purpose of the study, MRSA isolates were defined as non multiresistant when they were susceptible to at least three classes of non β-lactam antibiotics. Seventy-five isolates were submitted to antimicrobial susceptibility testing, multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for SCCmec, accessory gene regulator (agr) groups, arginine catabolic mobile element (ACME) and Panton Valentine leukocidin (PVL) toxin genes. For epidemiological typing, Multiple-Locus Variable-Number Tandem Repeat Fingerprinting (MLVF) was performed on all isolates and pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) on ST8 isolates.
Results
Non multiresistant MRSA isolates were isolated from all hospitals. Resistances to ciprofloxacin, macrolides and tetracycline were the most prevalent. MLST attributed 46 isolates with ST22, 13 with ST8, eight with ST1, three with ST50 and three with ST398. SCCmec type IV was found in all isolates. PVL was detected in one ST22 isolate. All isolates tested negative for the ACME element. MLVF identified 31 different patterns, some subtype clusters ranging in size between two and 22 isolates. The closely related PFGE patterns of the ST8 isolates differed from USA300.
Conclusions
A polyclonal circulation of non multiresistant MRSA along with blurring of boundaries between healthcare associated (HA)-MRSA and community associated (CA)-MRSA appear to be occurring in our epidemiological setting. A better understanding of spread of MRSA with the support of molecular typing can provide invaluable information in the epidemiological, microbiological and clinical fields.
doi:10.1186/1476-0711-11-17
PMCID: PMC3473248  PMID: 22713430
10.  Epidemic spread of ST1-MRSA-IVa in a neonatal intensive care unit, Italy 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:64.
Background
Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) has recently emerged as an important pathogen in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). The purposes of this study were to characterize methicillin-resistant isolates from an outbreak in a NICU, to examine the genetic traits and clonality of CA-MRSA, and to review the characteristics and outcomes of the neonatal cases and investigate the routes of entry and transmission of the MRSA outbreak strain in the NICU under study.
Methods
The study NICU practiced an active surveillance program for multidrug-resistant organisms, including weekly cultures for detection of MRSA from nasal swabs among all the admitted neonates. All first isolates from surveillance cultures and all clinical isolates were submitted for susceptibility testing and genotyping. Data from each infant’s medical records were prospectively included in a database, and the clinical features and outcomes of the colonized/infected infants were assessed.
Results
A total of 14 infants were colonized or infected by a strain of ST1-MRSA-IVa between April and August 2011. The CA-MRSA strain appeared to have been introduced to the NICU by an infected infant transferred from another hospital. The outbreak was successfully contained by multifaceted infection control interventions.
Conclusions
The results of this study confirm that NICU is a healthcare setting with a critical permeability to CA-MRSA. Active surveillance including molecular typing can help to detect and monitor the spread of antimicrobial drug-resistant organisms, and thus trigger timely control interventions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-64
PMCID: PMC3407518  PMID: 22682025
CA-MRSA; NICU; Epidemiology; Infection control
11.  A Fatal Bloodstream Infection by Staphylococcus pettenkoferi in an Intensive Care Unit Patient 
Case Reports in Critical Care  2011;2011:612732.
Coagulase negative staphylococci are increasingly recognized as leading pathogens in bacteremia, with incidence peaking in intensive care units. Interpretation of blood cultures that are positive for CoNS is often doubtful. We describe a fatal case of bacteremia by a newly recognized species of CoNS, Staphylococcus pettenkoferi, in an ICU patient.
doi:10.1155/2011/612732
PMCID: PMC4010065  PMID: 24826324
13.  Ventilator-associated Pneumonia and MRSA ST398, Italy 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2010;16(4):730-731.
doi:10.3201/eid1604.091584
PMCID: PMC3321962  PMID: 20350406
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; MRSA; ST398; ventilator-associated pneumonia; expedited; animals; Italy; letter

Results 1-13 (13)