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1.  A Web-Based Multidrug-Resistant Organisms Surveillance and Outbreak Detection System with Rule-Based Classification and Clustering 
The emergence and spread of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) are causing a global crisis. Combating antimicrobial resistance requires prevention of transmission of resistant organisms and improved use of antimicrobials.
To develop a Web-based information system for automatic integration, analysis, and interpretation of the antimicrobial susceptibility of all clinical isolates that incorporates rule-based classification and cluster analysis of MDROs and implements control chart analysis to facilitate outbreak detection.
Electronic microbiological data from a 2200-bed teaching hospital in Taiwan were classified according to predefined criteria of MDROs. The numbers of organisms, patients, and incident patients in each MDRO pattern were presented graphically to describe spatial and time information in a Web-based user interface. Hierarchical clustering with 7 upper control limits (UCL) was used to detect suspicious outbreaks. The system’s performance in outbreak detection was evaluated based on vancomycin-resistant enterococcal outbreaks determined by a hospital-wide prospective active surveillance database compiled by infection control personnel.
The optimal UCL for MDRO outbreak detection was the upper 90% confidence interval (CI) using germ criterion with clustering (area under ROC curve (AUC) 0.93, 95% CI 0.91 to 0.95), upper 85% CI using patient criterion (AUC 0.87, 95% CI 0.80 to 0.93), and one standard deviation using incident patient criterion (AUC 0.84, 95% CI 0.75 to 0.92). The performance indicators of each UCL were statistically significantly higher with clustering than those without clustering in germ criterion (P < .001), patient criterion (P = .04), and incident patient criterion (P < .001).
This system automatically identifies MDROs and accurately detects suspicious outbreaks of MDROs based on the antimicrobial susceptibility of all clinical isolates.
PMCID: PMC3510772  PMID: 23195868
multidrug resistance; surveillance; infection control; information systems; cluster analysis; Web-based services
2.  Rapid Diagnostic Tests and Severity of Illness in Pandemic (H1N1) 2009, Taiwan 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2010;16(7):1181-1183.
PMCID: PMC3321915  PMID: 20587206
Rapid diagnostic tests; viruses; respiratory infections; severity of illness; pandemic (H1N1) 2009; influenza; Taiwan; letter
3.  First Report of blaIMP-8 in Raoultella planticola 
Two carbapenem-resistant Raoultella planticola clinical isolates were isolated from patients with pneumonia and Port-A catheter-related bacteremia, respectively, in Taiwan. These isolates remained susceptible to fluoroquinolone, aminoglycoside, and colistin. Though the two isolates had the same antibiogram, plasmidic carbapenemase blaIMP-8, class 1 integron cassette (dfrA12-orfF-aadA2), and qnrB2, they had different pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns, plasmid sizes, and outer membrane protein loss profiles. To our knowledge, this is the first report of blaIMP-8 found in R. planticola. Interestingly, blaIMP-8 is the most common carbapenemase found in Klebsiella pneumoniae in Taiwan. In the literature, carbapenemase genes in R. planticola in each country were also found in carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae in the same country.
PMCID: PMC3910719  PMID: 24145534
4.  Fluconazole versus an echinocandin for Candida glabrata fungaemia: a retrospective cohort study 
We studied whether fluconazole or echinocandin treatment of Candida glabrata fungaemia results in superior outcomes.
A multicentre, retrospective study was performed with 224 adult patients who received ≥5 days of therapy with either fluconazole or an echinocandin as their first antifungal treatment after collection of a blood culture that grew C. glabrata. The primary outcome was day 14 complete response.
Patients in the echinocandin group were generally more ill, both at baseline and at the time of the index culture. Day 14 complete response was obtained in 58/127 (46%) and 50/97 (52%) of the fluconazole and echinocandin patients, respectively (P = 0.383). Logistic regression found intensive care unit admission to be associated with failure [OR 0.456 (0.217–0.957), P = 0.038] and echinocandin therapy to be associated with day 14 complete response [OR 2.305 (1.124–4.727), P = 0.023]. Twenty-eight day survival was similar between the fluconazole and echinocandin groups and logistic regression did not reveal antifungal therapy choice to be independently predictive of mortality. For patients treated with fluconazole, a dose : MIC ratio >12.5 (when compared with a ratio ≤12.5) was associated with a significantly higher day 14 complete response [4/20 (20%) ≤12.5 versus 50/102 (49%) >12.5, P = 0.025].
Severity of illness and choice of antifungal predict response in patients with C. glabrata fungaemia. Antifungal choice, however, does not influence mortality. In addition, new CLSI C. glabrata fluconazole susceptibility breakpoints are predictive of response when fluconazole is dosed appropriately.
PMCID: PMC3594495  PMID: 23212115
pharmacodynamics; breakpoints; ICU
5.  Impact of glucose levels on expression of hypha-associated secreted aspartyl proteinases in Candida albicans 
Ten secreted aspartyl proteinase (Sap) genes were identified in Candida albicans. The products of SAP genes are considered to be virulent factors of C. albicans that participated in causing mucocutaneous and systemic candidiasis in humans. Depending on environmental conditions, C. albicans may stay in yeast-form or convert into invasive hypha-form, and these issues may affect the expression of SAP genes. In this study we explored the component(s) of culture media that may affect the expression of hypha-associated SAP genes.
We demonstrate that glucose levels modulate both the hyphae development and the expression strength of hypha-associated SAP genes (SAP4-6). In contrast to high glucose concentration (2%), lower glucose level (0.1%) is more potent to promote hyphae development and to promptly elicit the expression of hypha-associated Sap proteins during yeast-to-hypha transition of C. albicans. Both Cph1-mediated MAP kinase cascade and Efg1-mediated cAMP/PKA pathway, although the latter seemed dominant, participate in convey the glucose signaling to regulate the expression of hypha-associated SAP genes and this glucose level effect may perform at very early stage of yeast-to-hypha transition. In addition, when C. albicans was co-cultured with THP-1 human monocytes, the engulfed C. albicans was developing hypha efficiently within 1 hr and the expression of hypha-associated Sap proteins could be detected on the distal surface of hyphae.
We propose that the glucose level of bloodstream (approximately 0.1%) may be facilitated for stimulation of C. albicans to develop invasive hypha-form and to elicit promptly production of high-level hypha-associated Sap proteins.
PMCID: PMC3995546  PMID: 24628998
Candida albicans; Secreted aspartyl proteinases (Saps); Glucose levels; Candidiasis
6.  Effectiveness of tigecycline-based versus colistin- based therapy for treatment of pneumonia caused by multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii in a critical setting: a matched cohort analysis 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:102.
Colistin and tigecycline have both been shown good in vitro activity among multi-drug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (MDRAB). A comparative study of colistin versus tigecycline for MDRAB pneumonia is lacking.
The study enrolled adults with MDRAB pneumonia admitted to intensive care units at a referral medical center during 2009–2010. Since there were no standardized minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) interpretation criteria of tigecycline against A. baumannii, MIC of tigecycline was not routinely tested at our hospital. During the study periods, MIC of colistin was not routinely tested also. We consider both colistin and tigecycline as definite treatments of MDRAB pneumonia. Patients who received tigecycline were selected as potential controls for those who had received colistin. We performed a propensity score analysis, by considering the criteria of age, gender, underlying diseases, and disease severity, in order to match and equalize potential prognostic factors and severity in the two groups.
A total of 294 adults with MDRAB pneumonia were enrolled, including 119 who received colistin and 175 who received tigecycline. We matched 84 adults who received colistin with an equal number of controls who received tigecycline. The two well matched cohorts share similar characteristics: the propensity scores are colistin: 0.37 vs. tigecycline: 0.37, (P = .97); baseline creatinine (1.70 vs. 1.81, P = .50), and the APACHE II score (21.6 vs. 22.0, P = .99). The tigecycline group has an excess mortality of 16.7% (60.7% vs. 44%, 95% confidence interval 0.9% – 32.4%, P = .04). The excess mortality of tigecycline is significant only among those with MIC >2 μg/mL (10/12 vs. 37/84, P = .01), but not for those with MIC ≦ 2 μg/mL (4/10 vs. 37/84, P = .81).
Our data disfavors the use of tigecycline-based treatment in treating MDRAB pneumonia when tigecycline and colistin susceptibilities are unknown, since choosing tigecycline-based treatment might result in higher mortality. The excess mortality of tigecycline-based group may be related to higher MIC of tigecycline (> 2 μg/mL). Choosing tigecycline empirically for treating MDRAB pneumonia in the critical setting should be cautious.
PMCID: PMC3936940  PMID: 24564226
Acinetobacter baumannii; Pneumonia; Colistin; Tigecycline; Mortality; Nephrotoxicity
7.  Sap6, a secreted aspartyl proteinase, participates in maintenance the cell surface integrity of Candida albicans 
The polymorphic species Candida albicans is the major cause of candidiasis in humans. The secreted aspartyl proteinases (Saps) of C. albicans, encoded by a family of 10 SAP genes, have been investigated as the virulent factors during candidiasis. However, the biological functions of most Sap proteins are still uncertain. In this study, we applied co-culture system of C. albicans and THP-1 human monocytes to explore the pathogenic roles and biological functions of Sap proteinases.
After 1 hr of co-culture of C. albicans strains and THP-1 human monocytes at 37°C, more than 60% of the THP-1-engulfed wild type and Δsap5 Candida cells were developing long hyphae. However, about 50% of THP-1-engulfed Δsap6 Candida cells were generating short hyphae, and more dead Candida cells were found in Δsap6 strain that was ingested by THP-1 cells (about 15% in Δsap6 strain vs. 2 ~ 2.5% in SC5314 and Δsap5 strains). The immunofluorescence staining demonstrated that the Sap6 is the major hyphal tip located Sap protein under THP-1 phagocytosis. The sap6-deleted strains (Δsap6, Δsap4/6, and Δsap5/6) appeared slower growth on Congo red containing solid medium at 25°C, and the growth defect was exacerbated when cultured at 37°C in Congo red or SDS containing medium. In addition, more proteins were secreted from Δsap6 strain and the β-mercaptoethanol (β-ME) extractable surface proteins from Δsap6 mutant were more abundant than that of extracted from wild type strain, which included the plasma membrane protein (Pma1p), the ER-chaperone protein (Kar2p), the protein transport-related protein (Arf1p), the cytoskeleton protein (Act1), and the mitochondrial outer membrane protein (porin 1). Moreover, the cell surface accessibility was increased in sap6-deleted strains.
From these results, we speculated that the cell surface constitution of C. albicans Δsap6 strain was defect. This may cause the more accessible of β-ME to disulfide-bridged cell surface components and may weaken the resistance of Δsap6 strain encountering phagocytosis of THP-1 cells. Sap6 protein displays a significant function involving in maintenance the cell surface integrity.
PMCID: PMC3890532  PMID: 24378182
Secreted aspartyl proteinases (Saps); Candidiasis; Cell surface integrity
8.  Microbiological, Epidemiological, and Clinical Characteristics and Outcomes of Patients with Cryptococcosis in Taiwan, 1997–2010 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61921.
Among members of Cryptococcus neoformans- Cryptococcus gattii species complex, C. neoformans is distributed worldwide whereas C. gattii is considered to be more prevalent in the subtropics and tropics including Taiwan. This nationwide study was undertaken to determine the distribution of genotypes, clinical characteristics and outcomes of 219 patients with proven cryptococcosis at 20 hospitals representative of all geographic areas in Taiwan during 1997–2010.
Methods and Findings
Of 219 isolates analyzed, C. neoformans accounted for 210 isolates (95.9%); nine isolates were C. gattii (4.1%). The predominant genotype was VNI (206 isolates). The other genotypes included VNII (4 isolates), VGI (3 isolates) and VGII (6 isolates). Antifungal minimal inhibition concentrations higher than epidemiologic cutoff values (ECVs) were found in nine VNI isolates (7 for amphotericin B). HIV infection was the most common underlying condition (54/219, 24.6%). Among HIV-negative patients, liver diseases (HBV carrier or cirrhosis) were common (30.2%) and 15.4% did not have any underlying condition. Meningoencephalitis was the most common presentation (58.9%), followed by pulmonary infection (19.6%) and “others” (predominantly cryptococcemia) (18.7%). The independent risk factors for 10-week mortality, by multivariate analysis, were cirrhosis of liver (P = 0.014) and CSF cryptococcal antigen titer ≥512 (P = 0.020). All except one of 54 HIV-infected patients were infected by VNI genotype (98.1%). Of the 13 isolates of genotypes other than VNI, 12 (92.3%) were isolated from HIV-negative patients. HIV-infected patients compared to HIV-negative patients were more likely to have meningoencephalitis and serum cryptococcal antigen ≥1∶512. Patients infected with C. gattii compared to C. neoformans were younger, more likely to have meningoencephalitis (100% vs. 57%), reside in Central Taiwan (56% vs. 31%), and higher 10-week crude mortality (44.4% vs. 22.2%).
Cryptococcus neoformans in Taiwan, more prevalent than C. gatii, has a predominant VNI genotype. Isolates with antifungal MIC higher than ECVs were rare.
PMCID: PMC3629109  PMID: 23613973
9.  Clinical and Microbiological Characteristics of Perianal Infections in Adult Patients with Acute Leukemia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60624.
Perianal infection is a common problem for patients with acute leukemia. However, neutropenia and bleeding tendency are relatively contraindicated to surgical intervention. The epidemiology, microbiology, clinical manifestations and outcomes of perianal infection in leukemic patients are also rarely discussed.
The medical records of 1102 adult patients with acute leukemia at a tertiary medical center in Taiwan between 2001 and 2010 were retrospectively reviewed and analyzed.
The prevalence of perianal infection was 6.7% (74 of 1102) in adult patients with acute leukemia. Twenty-three (31%) of the 74 patients had recurrent episodes of perianal infections. Patients with acute myeloid leukemia had higher recurrent rates than acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients (p = 0.028). More than half (n = 61, 53%) of the perianal infections were caused by gram-negative bacilli, followed by gram-positive cocci (n = 36, 31%), anaerobes (n = 18, 15%) and Candida (n = 1, 1%) from pus culture. Eighteen patients experienced bacteremia (n = 24) or candidemia (n = 1). Overall 41 (68%) of 60 patients had polymicrobial infection. Escherichia coli (25%) was the most common micro-organism isolated, followed by Enterococcus species (22%), Klebsiella pneumoniae (13%), and Bacteroides species (11%). Twenty-five (34%) of 74 patients received surgical intervention. Acute leukemia patients with surgically managed anal fistulas tended to have fewer recurrences (p = 0.067). Four (5%) patients died within 30 days after diagnosis of perianal infection. Univariate analysis of 30-day survival revealed the elderly (≧ 65 years) (p = 0.015) and patients with shock (p<0.001) had worse outcome. Multivariate analysis showed septic shock to be the independent predictive factor of 30-day crude mortality of perianal infections (p = 0.016).
Perianal infections were common and had high recurrence rate in adult patients with acute leukemia. Empirical broad-spectrum antibiotics with anaerobic coverage should be considered. Shock independently predicted 30-day crude mortality. Surgical intervention for perianal infection remains challenging in patients with acute leukemia.
PMCID: PMC3618431  PMID: 23577135
10.  The Use of Chitosan to Enhance Photodynamic Inactivation against Candida albicans and Its Drug-Resistant Clinical Isolates 
Drug-resistant Candida infection is a major health concern among immunocompromised patients. Antimicrobial photodynamic inactivation (PDI) was introduced as an alternative treatment for local infections. Although Candida (C.) has demonstrated susceptibility to PDI, high doses of photosensitizer (PS) and light energy are required, which may be harmful to eukaryotic human cells. This study explores the capacity of chitosan, a polycationic biopolymer, to increase the efficacy of PDI against C. albicans, as well as fluconazole-resistant clinical isolates in planktonic or biofilm states. Chitosan was shown to effectively augment the effect of PDI mediated by toluidine blue O (TBO) against C. albicans that were incubated with chitosan for 30 min following PDI. Chitosan at concentrations as low as 0.25% eradicated C. albicans; however, without PDI treatment, chitosan alone did not demonstrate significant antimicrobial activity within the 30 min of incubation. These results suggest that chitosan only augmented the fungicidal effect after the cells had been damaged by PDI. Increasing the dosage of chitosan or prolonging the incubation time allowed a reduction in the PDI condition required to completely eradicate C. albicans. These results clearly indicate that combining chitosan with PDI is a promising antimicrobial approach to treat infectious diseases.
PMCID: PMC3645695  PMID: 23552829
chitosan; Candida; antimicrobial; photodynamic inactivation
11.  Safety and efficacy of high-dose daptomycin as salvage therapy for severe gram-positive bacterial sepsis in hospitalized adult patients 
Increasing the dosage of daptomycin may be advantageous in severe infection by enhancing bactericidal activity and pharmacodynamics. However, clinical data on using daptomycin at doses above 6 mg/kg in Asian population are limited.
A retrospective observational cohort study of all hospitalized adult patients treated with daptomycin (> 6 mg/kg) for at least 72 hours was performed in Taiwan.
A total of 67 patients (40 males) with a median age of 57 years received a median dose of 7.61 mg/kg (range, 6.03-11.53 mg/kg) of daptomycin for a median duration of 14 days (range, 3–53 days). Forty-one patients (61.2%) were in intensive care units (ICU). Sites of infections included complicated skin and soft tissue infections (n = 16), catheter-related bacteremia (n = 16), endocarditis (n = 11), primary bacteremia (n = 10), osteomyelitis and septic arthritis (n = 9), and miscellaneous (n = 5). The median Pitt bacteremia score among the 54 (80.6%) patients with bacteremia was 4. The most common pathogen was methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (n = 38). Fifty-nine patients (88.1%) were treated with daptomycin after glycopepetide use. Overall, 52 (77.6%) patients achieved clinical success. The all-cause mortality rate at 28 day was 35.8%. In multivariate analysis, the significant predictors of in-hospital mortality in 54 bacteremic patients were malignancies (P = 0.01) and ICU stay (P = 0.02). Adverse effects of daptomycin were generally well-tolerated, leading to discontinuation in 3 patients. Daptomycin-related creatine phosphokinase (CPK) elevations were observed in 4 patients, and all received doses > 8 mg/kg.
Treatment with high dose daptomycin as salvage therapy was generally effective and safe in Taiwan. CPK level elevations were more frequent in patients with dose > 8 mg/kg.
PMCID: PMC3571896  PMID: 23379510
Daptomycin; High dose; Creatine phosphokinase; Treatment outcomes
12.  Compliance of Health Care Workers with Hand Hygiene Practices: Independent Advantages of Overt and Covert Observers 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53746.
Evaluation and feedback of hand hygiene (HH) compliance are important elements of the WHO multimodal strategy for hospital infection control. Overt observation is recommended, but it may be confounded by Hawthorne effect. Covert observation offers the opportunity to decrease observer bias. In this study we conducted a one year hospital-wide HH promotion program that included medical students (MS) as covert observers.
HH compliance for the five WHO indications was determined by trained and validated observers. The overt observers consisted of eleven infection control nurses (ICNs) and two unit HH ambassadors (UAs) in each of 83 wards. The covert observers consisted of nine MS during their rotating clinical clerkships. Feedback was provided to department heads and staff each quarter.
Of the 23,333 HH observations 76.0% were by MS, 5.3% by ICNs and 18.7% by UAs. The annual compliance rates were MS 44.1%, ICNs 74.4% and UAs 94.1%; P<0.001. The MS found significantly lower annual compliance rates for 4/5 HH indications compared to ICNs and UAs; P<0.05. The ICNs reported significantly improvement from the first to the fourth quarter; P<0.001. This was associated with feedback from the MS of very poor compliance by nurses during the first quarter.
Based on these findings we recommend a two-pronged approach to HH programs. The role of ICNs and UAs is to educate, serve as role models, establish, sustain good HH practices and provide direct feedback. The role of the covert observers is to measure compliance and provide independent feedback.
PMCID: PMC3544847  PMID: 23341991
13.  Incidence of and Risk Factors for Infection or Colonization of Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci in Patients in the Intensive Care Unit 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47297.
The prevalence of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) colonization or infection in the hospital setting has increased globally. Many previous studies had analysed the risk factors for acquiring VRE, based on cross-sectional studies or prevalent cases. However, the actual incidence of and risk factors for VRE remain unclear. The present study was conducted in order to clarify the incidence of and risk factors for VRE in the intensive care unit (ICU). From 1st April 2008 to 31st March 2009, all patients admitted to a surgical ICU (SICU) were put on active surveillance for VRE. The surveillance cultures, obtained by rectal swab, were taken on admission, weekly while staying in the SICU, and on discharge from the SICU. A total of 871 patients were screened. Among them, 34 were found to carry VRE before their admission to the SICU, and 47 acquired VRE during their stay in the SICU, five of whom developed VRE infections. The incidence of newly acquired VRE during ICU stay was 21.9 per 1000 patient-days (95% confidence interval [CI], 16.4–29.1). Using multivariate analysis by logistic regression, we found that the length of ICU stay was an independent risk factor for new acquisition of VRE. In contrast, patients with prior exposure to first-generation cephalosporin were significantly less likely to acquire VRE. Strategies to reduce the duration of ICU stay and prudent usage of broad-spectrum antibiotics are the keys to controlling VRE transmission.
PMCID: PMC3468570  PMID: 23071778
14.  Clinical characteristics and outcomes of Mycobacterium tuberculosis disease in adult patients with hematological malignancies 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:324.
Diseases caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) among adult patients with hematological malignancies have rarely been investigated.
Adult patients with hematological malignancies at National Taiwan University Hospital between 1996 and 2009 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients with positive serology for HIV were excluded. TB disease is diagnosed by positive culture(s) in the presence of compatible symptoms and signs. The demographics, laboratory and, microbiological features, were analyzed in the context of clinical outcomes.
Fifty-three of 2984 patients (1.78%) were diagnosed with TB disease. The estimated incidence was 120 per 100,000 adult patients with hematological malignancies. Patients with acute myeloid leukemia had a significantly higher incidence of TB disease than other subtypes of hematological malignancies (2.87% vs. 1.21%, p = 0.002, odds ratio, 2.40; 95% confidence interval, 1.39-4.41). Thirty-eight patients (72%) with non-disseminated pulmonary TB disease presented typically with mediastinal lymphadenopathy (53%), pleural effusion (47%) and fibrocalcific lesions (43%) on chest imaging. The 15 (28%) patients with extra-pulmonary disease had lower rates of defervescence within 72 h of empirical antimicrobial therapy (13% vs 45%, p = 0.03) and a higher 30-day in-hospital mortality (20% vs. 0%, p = 0.004) compared to those with disease confined to the lungs.
TB disease is not uncommon among patients with hematological malignancies in Taiwan. Patients who received a diagnosis of extra-pulmonary TB suffered higher mortality than those with pulmonary TB alone. Clinicians should consider TB in the differential diagnoses of prolonged fever in patients with hematological malignancies, particularly in regions of high endemicity.
PMCID: PMC3241214  PMID: 22111760
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB); Hematological malignancy; Febrile neutropenia
15.  Effectiveness and Limitations of Hand Hygiene Promotion on Decreasing Healthcare–Associated Infections 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27163.
Limited data describe the sustained impact of hand hygiene programs (HHPs) implemented in teaching hospitals, where the burden of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) is high. We use a quasi-experimental, before and after, study design with prospective hospital-wide surveillance of HAIs to assess the cost effectiveness of HHPs.
Methods and Findings
A 4-year hospital-wide HHP, with particular emphasis on using an alcohol-based hand rub, was implemented in April 2004 at a 2,200-bed teaching hospital in Taiwan. Compliance was measured by direct observation and the use of hand rub products. Poisson regression analyses were employed to evaluate the densities and trends of HAIs during the preintervention (January 1999 to March 2004) and intervention (April 2004 to December 2007) periods. The economic impact was estimated based on a case-control study in Taiwan. We observed 8,420 opportunities for hand hygiene during the study period. Compliance improved from 43.3% in April 2004 to 95.6% in 2007 (p<.001), and was closely correlated with increased consumption of the alcohol-based hand rub (r = 0.9399). The disease severity score (Charlson comorbidity index) increased (p = .002) during the intervention period. Nevertheless, we observed an 8.9% decrease in HAIs and a decline in the occurrence of bloodstream, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, extensively drug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii, and intensive care unit infections. The intervention had no discernable impact on HAI rates in the hematology/oncology wards. The net benefit of the HHP was US$5,289,364, and the benefit-cost ratio was 23.7 with a 3% discount rate.
Implementation of a HHP reduces preventable HAIs and is cost effective.
PMCID: PMC3217962  PMID: 22110610
16.  Genome Sequence of a Dominant, Multidrug-Resistant Acinetobacter baumannii Strain, TCDC-AB0715▿ 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(9):2361-2362.
Acinetobacter baumannii has emerged as a significant nosocomial pathogen worldwide. The increasing trend of carbapenem and fluoroquinolone resistance in A. baumannii severely limits the usage of therapeutic antimicrobial agents. Here we report the genome sequence of a multidrug-resistant A. baumannii strain, TCDC-AB0715, harboring both blaOXA-23 and blaOXA-66.
PMCID: PMC3133099  PMID: 21398540
17.  Invasive fungal sinusitis in patients with hematological malignancy: 15 years experience in a single university hospital in Taiwan 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:250.
Risk factors and outcomes in hematological patients who acquire invasive fungal sinusitis (IFS) are infrequently reported in the modern medical era.
A retrospective study of hospitalized patients with hematological disease was conducted at National Taiwan University Hospital between January 1995 and December 2009.
Clinical characteristics and outcomes with their associated radiographic and microbiological findings were analyzed. Forty-six patients with IFS and 64 patients with chronic non-invasive sinusitis were enrolled as comparsion. IFS developed more commonly in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and with prolonged neutropenia (absolute neutrophil count less than 500/mm3 for more than 10 days) (p < 0.001). Aspergillus flavus was the most common pathogen isolated (44%). Serum Aspergillus galactomannan antigen was elevated in seven of eleven patients (64%) with IFS caused by aspergillosis but negative for all three patients with mucormycosis. Bony erosion and extra-sinus infiltration was found in 15 of 46 (33%) patients on imaging. Overall, 19 of 46 patients (41.3%) died within 6 weeks. Patients with disease subtype of AML (p = 0.044; Odds Ratio [OR], 5.84; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.02-30.56) and refractory leukemia status (p = 0.05; OR, 4.27; 95% CI, 1.003-18.15) had worse prognosis. Multivariate analysis identified surgical debridement as an independent good prognostic factor (p = 0.047) in patients with IFS.
Patients of AML with prolonged neutropenia (> 10 days) had significantly higher risk of IFS. Early introduction of anti-fungal agent and aggressive surgical debridement potentially decrease morbidity and mortality in high risk patients with IFS.
PMCID: PMC3196720  PMID: 21939544
Invasive fungal sinusitis (IFS) ; hematological disease;  Aspergillus galactomanan
18.  Comparison of an Automated Repetitive-Sequence-Based PCR Microbial Typing System with Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis for Molecular Typing of Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus faecium▿ †  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(8):2897-2901.
Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) has become an important health care-associated pathogen because of its rapid spread, limited therapeutic options, and possible transfer of vancomycin resistance to more-virulent pathogens. In this study, we compared the ability to detect clonal relationships among VRE isolates by an automated repetitive-sequence-based PCR (Rep-PCR) system (DiversiLab system) to pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), the reference method for molecular typing of VRE. Two sets of VRE isolates evaluated in this study were collected by active microbial surveillance at a large teaching hospital in Taiwan during 2008. The first set included 90 isolates randomly selected from the surveillance cohort. The first set consisted of 34 pulsotypes and 10 Rep-PCR types. There was good correlation between the two methods (P < 0.001). The second set included 68 VRE isolates collected from eight clusters of colonization. A dominant clone was detected in five out of eight clusters by both methods. Two clusters were characterized by Rep-PCR as being caused by a dominant clone, whereas PFGE showed polyclonal origins. One cluster was shown to be polyclonal by both methods. A single Rep-PCR clone type was detected among 12 of 14 vancomycin-intermediate enterococci, whereas PFGE detected six pulsotypes. In conclusion, the Rep-PCR method correlated well with PFGE typing but was less discriminative than PFGE in defining clonal relationships. The ease of use and more rapid turnaround time of Rep-PCR compared to PFGE offers a rapid screening method to detect outbreaks of VRE and more rapidly implement control measures. PFGE remains the preferred method to confirm clonal spread.
PMCID: PMC2916582  PMID: 20554812
19.  Genetic Basis of Multidrug Resistance in Acinetobacter Clinical Isolates in Taiwan▿  
Multidrug-resistant (MDR) Acinetobacter spp. have emerged as a threat to public health. We investigated the various genes involved in resistance to fluoroquinolones, aminoglycosides, cephalosporins, and carbapenems in 75 clinical Acinetobacter isolates from a Taiwanese hospital. All isolates were tested for the gyrA mutations, the presence of integrons, blaAmpC, and carbapenem resistance genes. The Ser83Leu mutation in GyrA accounted for fluoroquinolone resistance. The presence of integrons containing aminoglycoside-modifying enzymes was associated with resistance to gentamicin and tobramycin but not with resistance to amikacin. The presence of an ISAba1 element upstream of blaAmpC was correlated with cephalosporin resistance. Although most Acinetobacter baumannii isolates with ISAba1-blaOXA-51-like were resistant to carbapenems, several isolates remained susceptible to carbapenems. Transformation by the introduction of ISAba1-blaOXA-23 or ISAba1-blaOXA-66 into A. baumannii ATCC 15151 (CIP 70.10), resulting in the overexpression of OXA-23 or OXA-66, respectively, suggested the role of the ISAba1 element as a strong promoter. The two transformants showed significantly increased resistance to piperacillin-tazobactam, imipenem, and meropenem. The cefepime resistance conferred by ISAba1-blaOXA-23 and the impact of ISAba1-blaOXA-66 on carbapenem resistance in A. baumannii are reported here for the first time. Continuous surveillance of antibiotic resistance genes in MDR Acinetobacter spp. and elucidation of their antibiotic resistance mechanisms are crucial for the development of therapy regimens and for the prevention of further dissemination of these antibiotic resistance genes.
PMCID: PMC2863617  PMID: 20194701
20.  Nosocomial methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia in Taiwan: Mortality analyses and the impact of vancomycin, MIC = 2 mg/L, by the broth microdilution method 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:159.
Previous studies regarding the prognosis of patients infected with MRSA isolates characterized by a high minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) for vancomycin have generally used a commercial Etest. Little research has been conducted on determining the vancomycin susceptibility of MRSA using a reference microdilution. Additionally, there is discordance between the MIC result from an Etest and the value determined using the reference microdilution method.
Using a reference microdilution method, we determined the MIC of vancomycin for isolates from 123 consecutive patients with nosocomial MRSA bacteremia. The clinical features and outcome for these patients were recorded and the MRSA isolates were genotyped.
Among the 123 non-duplicated isolates, 21.1% had a MIC = 2 mg/L, 76.4% had a MIC = 1 mg/L and 2.4% had MIC = 0.5 mg/L. Patients with MRSA bacteremia in the ICU or those who had been hospitalized for a long time were more likely to be infected with strains of high vancomycin MIC MRSA (MIC = 2 mg/L; p < 0.05). Cox regression analysis demonstrated that the high MIC group had a significantly higher 30-day mortality than the low MIC group (HR: 2.39; 95% CI: 1.20-4.79; p = 0.014). Multivariate analyses indicated that the presence of high MIC isolates, pneumonia, post-cardiothoracic surgery and a high Charlson comorbidity index were all independent predictors of a 30-day mortality. Genotyping of these high vancomycin MIC isolates demonstrated that SCCmec III, spa type037, was the predominant strain (> 80%). The rates of resistance to trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, gentamicin, levofloxacin, rifampin and tetracycline were also higher in the high MIC group than in the isolates belonging to low MIC group (p < 0.05).
In a high vancomycin MIC group in Taiwan, SCCmec III, spa type t037, was the predominant strain of MRSA identified. Patients with MRSA bacteremia in the ICU or who had prolonged hospitalization were more likely to be infected with S. aureus strains with high vancomycin MICs. The mortality rate was higher among patients infected with these strains compared to patients infected with low MIC strains.
PMCID: PMC2890009  PMID: 20529302
21.  Association between Contaminated Faucets and Colonization or Infection by Nonfermenting Gram-Negative Bacteria in Intensive Care Units in Taiwan▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;47(10):3226-3230.
This study was designed to determine the strength of the association between the isolation of nonfermentative gram-negative bacilli (NFGNB) from tap water faucet aerators and the prevalence of colonization or infection of patients in intensive care units (ICUs). Surveillance cultures were obtained during a 4-month period from 162 faucet aerators located in seven different ICUs. The prevalence of colonization or infection of ICU patients with NFGNB was determined by prospective surveillance during the same period. Fifty four (33%) of the faucet aerators contained NFGNB. Among the 66 NFGNB isolated from faucet aerators, the most frequently encountered ones were Sphingomonas paucimobili (26 isolates), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (14 isolates), Chryseobacterium meningosepticum (13 isolates), Achromobacter xylosoxidans (6 isolates), Burkholderia cepacia (4 isolates), and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia (3 isolates). Acinetobacter baumannii was not recovered. The most common NFGNB isolated from ICU patients were P. aeruginosa and A. baumannii. There was a significant correlation between the overall prevalence of NFGNB in faucet aerators and their prevalence in exposed ICU patients (Spearman r = 0.821, P = 0.02). There was also a significant correlation between the prevalence of C. meningosepticum in faucet aerators and its prevalence among ICU patients (Spearman r = 0.847, P = 0.016). The electrokaryotypes of four clinical isolates of C. meningosepticum were similar to those of faucet isolates. Measures directed at making the water supply safe may prevent infection by C. meningosepticum and other waterborne pathogens.
PMCID: PMC2756896  PMID: 19587299
22.  Distribution of Staphylococcal Cassette Chromosome mec Types and Correlation with Comorbidity and Infection Type in Patients with MRSA Bacteremia 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9489.
Molecular epidemiological definitions that are based on staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) typing and phylogenetic analysis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates are considered a reliable way to distinguish between healthcare-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA) and community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA). However, there is little information regarding the clinical features and outcomes of bacteremia patients with MRSA carrying different SCCmec types.
From January 1 through December 31, 2006, we recorded the demographic data and outcomes of 159 consecutive adult MRSA bacteremia patients from whom isolates for SCCmec analysis were collected. All participants were patients at a tertiary care center in Taiwan.
Principal Findings
The following SCCmec types were identified in MRSA isolates: 30 SCCmec II (18.9%), 87 SCCmec III (54.7%), 22 SCCmec IV (13.8%), and 20 SCCmec V (12.6%). The time from admission to the first MRSA-positive blood culture for patients infected with isolates with the SCCmec III element (mean/median, 50.7/26 days) was significantly longer than for patients infected with isolates carrying SCCmec IV or V (mean/median, 6.7/3 days for SCCmec IV; 11.1/10.5 days for SCCmec V) (P<0.05). In univariate analysis, community onset, soft tissue infection, and deep-seated infection were predictors for SCCmec IV/V. In multivariate analysis, length of stay before index culture, diabetes mellitus, and being bedridden were independent risk factors associated with SCCmec II/III.
These findings are in agreement with previous studies of the genetic characteristics of CA-MRSA. MRSA bacteremia with SCCmec II/III isolates occurred more among patients with serious comorbidities and prolonged hospitalization. Community onset, skin and soft tissue infection, and deep-seated infection best predicted SCCmec IV/V MRSA bacteremia.
PMCID: PMC2832693  PMID: 20221428
23.  Application of a Microsphere-Based Array for Rapid Identification of Acinetobacter spp. with Distinct Antimicrobial Susceptibilities▿ † 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2007;46(2):612-617.
Acinetobacter spp. have emerged as important nosocomial and multidrug-resistant pathogens in the last decade. A. calcoaceticus, A. baumannii, Acinetobacter genospecies 3, and Acinetobacter genospecies 13TU are genetically closely related and are referred to as the A. calcoaceticus-A. baumannii complex (ACB complex). Distinct Acinetobacter spp. may be associated with differences in antimicrobial susceptibility, so it is important to identify Acinetobacter spp. at the species level. We developed a microsphere-based array that combines an allele-specific primer extension assay and microsphere hybridization for the identification of Acinetobacter spp. This assay can discriminate the 13 different Acinetobacter spp. in less than 8.5 h, and it has high specificity without causing cross-reactivity with 14 other common nosocomial bacterial species. The sensitivity of this assay was 100 A. baumannii cells per ml of blood, and it could discriminate multiple species in various mixture ratios. The developed assay could differentiate clinical Acinetobacter spp. isolates with a 90% identification rate. The antimicrobial susceptibility test showed that A. baumannii isolates were resistant to most antimicrobial agents other than imipenem, while the genospecies 3 and 13TU isolates were more susceptible to most antimicrobial agents, especially ciprofloxacin and ampicillin-sulbactam. These results supported the idea that this assay possibly could be applied to clinical samples and provide accurate species identification, which might be helpful for clinicians when they are treating infections caused by Acinetobacter spp.
PMCID: PMC2238122  PMID: 18039798
24.  Detection of Circulating Galactomannan in Serum Samples for Diagnosis of Penicillium marneffei Infection and Cryptococcosis among Patients Infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2007;45(9):2858-2862.
Galactomannan (GM) is a heteropolysaccharide in the cell walls of most Aspergillus and Penicillium species. Cross-reactivity of Cryptococcus neoformans galactoxylomannan in an Aspergillus GM test has also been reported. In this study, we used a Platelia Aspergillus enzyme immunoassay kit (Bio-Rad) to test serum samples obtained from 48 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients (15 with penicilliosis [7 with fungemia alone, 4 with cavitary lung lesions alone, 3 with both fungemia and cavitary lung lesions, and 1 with disseminated disease], 22 with cryptococcosis [11 with fungemia alone, 5 with cavitary lung lesions, 3 with both, and 3 with meningitis alone], and 11 without any invasive fungal infection [control]) for GM levels. None of the patients had aspergillosis or concurrent use of piperacillin-tazobactam or amoxicillin-clavulanate. The median time between diagnosis of fungal infection and collection of serum samples was 0 days for penicilliosis and 1.5 days for cryptococcosis. Of patients with penicilliosis, cryptococcosis, and controls, 73.3%, 13.6%, and 9%, respectively, had GM optical density (OD) indices of >0.5 (P = 0.0001). GM OD indices were higher for penicilliosis (median OD index, 4.419; range, 0.158 to >20) than for cryptococcosis (median, 0.247; range, 0.112 to 3.849) cases (P < 0.001). Patients with fungemic penicilliosis had higher OD indices (median, 10.628; range, 0.401 to >20) than patients with nonfungemic penicilliosis (median, 0.378; range, 0.158 to 4.419) and patients with cryptococcemia (median, 0.231; range, 0.112 to 1.168) (P < 0.001). Of the 15 patients with cavitary lung lesions, those with penicilliosis had higher antigen levels (median OD index, 1.641; range, 0.247 to >20) than those with cryptococcosis (median, 0.227; range, 0.112 to 3.849) (P = 0.011). This study showed that the GM OD index was significantly elevated for HIV patients with penicilliosis. The use of the GM antigen assay may facilitate earlier diagnosis of Penicillium marneffei infection for HIV-infected patients in areas of endemicity.
PMCID: PMC2045252  PMID: 17596363
25.  Assessment of Candida glabrata Strain Relatedness by Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis and Multilocus Sequence Typing▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2007;45(8):2452-2459.
In this study, 80 Candida glabrata isolates from intensive care unit and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients were typed by multilocus sequence typing (MLST), pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and mating type class determination. Among the 25 patients with multiple isolates, 19 patients (76%) contained multiple isolates exhibiting identical or highly related PFGE and MLST genotypes, which may indicate the maintenance or microvariation of one C. glabrata strain in each patient. However, isolates from six patients (24%) displayed different sequence types, PFGE genotypes, or mating type classes, which may indicate colonization with more than one clone over time or strain replacement. High correlations among PFGE genotypes, sequence types, and mating types were found (P < 0.01). MLST exhibited less discriminatory power than PFGE with BssHII. The genotypes, sequence types, and mating type classes were independent of anatomic sources, drug susceptibility, and HIV infection status.
PMCID: PMC1951215  PMID: 17553975

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