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1.  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
2.  The occurrence of extended-spectrum β-lactamase producing Shigella spp. in Tehran, Iran 
Iranian Journal of Microbiology  2013;5(2):108-112.
Background and Objectives
The emergence of extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Shigella spp. is of increasing clinical concern specially in children worldwide. The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of extended-spectrum β-lactamase producing Shigella spp. in Tehran, Iran
Materials and Methods
The study included all Shigella isolates recovered from pediatric patients aged less than 12 years admitted to a major pediatric hospital in Tehran, Iran, from 2008 to 2010. Bacterial identification, antimicrobial susceptibility testing, extended spectrum β-lactamases (ESBLs) screening and confirmatory tests were performed according to the standard guidelines. Conjugal transfer experiments and plasmid analysis were also carried out. Polymerase chain reaction and sequencing were used to identify the genetic determinants responsible for ESBL production.
Results
Four out of 55 Shigella isolates, including three S. sonnei and one S. flexneri, showed an ESBL-positive phenotype. Plasmid transfer of the ESBL phenotype was successful for the S. flexneri isolate only. By PCR and sequencing, one S. sonnei isolate tested positive for the CMY-59 gene, while the other two S. sonnei and the S. flexneri isolates tested positive for the bla TEM-1 and bla CTX-M-15 genes.
Conclusion
We found the prevalence of ESBL producing Shigella isolates was higher than detection rates observed in many other countries. Our finding raise concerns about the dissemination of ESBL among the strains of endemic S. sonnei throughout the country, because this species is now the most frequently isolated Shigella species in Iran and shigellosis by such strains in the community can pose a significant threat to patients and presents a challenge for disease management.
PMCID: PMC3696844  PMID: 23825726
ESBLs; Shigella spp; Antibiotic resistance
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  Characterization of Listeria monocytogenes Isolates from Human Listeriosis Cases in Italy ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;47(9):2925-2930.
The objective of this study was to characterize by serotyping, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and PCR amplification of virulence genes and markers of epidemic clones I, II, and III (ECI, ECII, and ECIII) 54 human isolates from apparently sporadic cases of infection occurring in the Lombardy region and in the province of Florence, Tuscany, Italy, in the years 1996 to 2007. Listeria monocytogenes isolates were provided by the clinical microbiology laboratories of the Lombardy region and the “Careggi” Hospital of Florence, Tuscany, Italy. Serotyping, PFGE after digestion with the AscI and ApaI enzymes, and PCR amplification for the inlA, inlC, and inlJ genes and ECI, ECII, and ECIII markers were performed according to procedures described previously. Twenty-five (46.3%) L. monocytogenes isolates were assigned to serotype 1/2a, 23 (42.6%) to serotype 4b, and 6 (11.1%) to serotype 1/2b. Thirty-one AscI pulsotypes were recognized among the 54 human isolates. Eleven molecular subtype clusters, of which eight included indistinguishable pulsotypes and three included closely related pulsotypes, were shared by two to seven isolates. Fifteen isolates exhibited unique AscI pulsotypes. Three groups of clustered isolates and two apparently sporadic isolates generated EC amplicons. All strains tested positive for the inlA, inlC, and inlJ genes. Based on the results of serotyping and molecular typing, there were 11 occasions when L. monocytogenes strains with the same subtype were isolated from more than one listeriosis case. A total of 39 out of 54 isolates (72.2%) were attributed to molecular subtype clusters. The results of the study suggest that routine subtyping of L. monocytogenes strains from human listeriosis cases could allow more-timely detection of outbreaks possibly caused by food-borne isolates from a common source and could lead to control of ongoing food exposure, thus preventing the occurrence of more cases.
doi:10.1128/JCM.00102-09
PMCID: PMC2738095  PMID: 19605584
10.  Salmonella bongori 48:z35:– in Migratory Birds, Italy 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2009;15(3):502-503.
doi:10.3201/eid1503.080039
PMCID: PMC2681106  PMID: 19239780
Salmonella bongori; birds; Italy; letter
11.  Genetic relatedness among isolates of Shigella sonnei carrying class 2 integrons in Tehran, Iran, 2002–2003 
Background
Shigella spp. are major cause of diarrhoeal disease in both developing and developed countries. Shigella sonnei is the serogroup of Shigella most frequently responsible for sporadic and epidemic enteritis in developed countries. In recent years the emergence and spread of S. sonnei biotype g carrying class 2 integron have been frequently reported in many countries. Recently, S. sonnei has been reported as the prevalent serogroup of Shigella in Iran.
The present study was carried out to investigate phenotypic and genetic characteristics of Shigella sonnei isolates identified in the years 2002 and 2003 in Tehran, Iran.
Methods
Biotyping, drug susceptibility testing, pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and analysis of class 2 integrons have been carried out on 60 S. sonnei isolates, including 57 sporadic isolates from paediatric cases of shigellosis occurring in 2002 and 2003, two sporadic isolates recovered in 1984 and the ATCC 9290 strain.
Results
Biotype g and resistance to streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim and tetracycline were exhibited by 54 of the 57 recent isolates. Of the 54 biotype g isolates, 28 exhibited a class 2 integron of 2161 bp, and 24 a class 2 integron of 1371 bp, respectively. Class 2 integrons were not detected in four isolates only, including the two endemic isolates recovered in 1984 and two strains from recent sporadic cases. PFGE divided the strains into eight pulsotypes labeled A to H, three major pulsotypes – A to C – including the large majority of the recent sporadic S. sonnei isolates. Pulsotypes A and C were the most prevalent groups, accounting for 41.6% and 35.0%, respectively, of the isolates under study.
Conclusion
The results suggest that biotype g, class 2 integron carrying S. sonnei are prevalent in our geographic area. S. sonnei isolated in the years 2002 and 2003 could be attributed to a few predominant clusters including, respectively, strains with pulsotypes B and C carrying a 2161 bp class 2 integron, and those having pulsotype A and a 1371 bp class 2 integron. A few epidemic clones are responsible for the apparently endemic occurrence of shigellosis in Tehran, Iran.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-7-62
PMCID: PMC1914347  PMID: 17587439
12.  Shigella sonnei biotype g carrying class 2 integrons in southern Italy: a retrospective typing study by pulsed field gel electrophoresis 
Background
Emergence and global dissemination of multiresistant strains of enteric pathogens is a very concerning problem from both epidemiological and Public Health points of view. Shigella sonnei is the serogroup of Shigella most frequently responsible for sporadic and epidemic enteritis in developed countries. The dissemination is associated most often to human to human transmission, but foodborne episodes have also been described. In recent years the circulation of multiresistant strains of S. sonnei biotype g carrying a class 2 integron has been reported in many countries worldwide. In southern Italy a strain with similar properties has been responsible for a large community outbreak occurred in 2003 in Palermo, Sicily.
The objective of this study was to date the emergence of the biotype g strain carrying the class 2 integron in southern Italy and to evaluate the genetic heterogeneity of biotype g S. sonnei isolated throughout an extended interval of time.
Methods
A total of 31 clinical isolates of S. sonnei biotype g identified in southern Italy during the years 1971–2000 were studied. The strains were identified at the serogroup level, characterized by biochemical tests and submitted to antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Molecular typing was performed by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) after digestion of DNA by XbaI. Carriage of class 2 integrons was investigated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with specific primers and confirmed by restriction endonuclease analysis of amplicons.
Results
The 15 isolates of S. sonnei biotype g identified in the decade 1971–1980 showed highly heterogeneous drug resistance profiles and pulsotypes. None of the isolates was simultaneous resistant to streptomycin and trimethoprim and none was class 2 integron positive. On the contrary, this resistance phenotype and class 2 integron carriage were very common among the 16 strains of biotype g identified in the following two decades. Moreover, all the more recent isolates, but one, showed closely related pulsotypes.
Conclusion
Although our findings refer to a limited geographic area, they provide a snapshot of integron acquisition by an enteric pathogen responsible for several outbreaks in the years 2001–2003 in Italy. Molecular typing, indeed, suggests that the emergence of biotype g class 2 integron carrying S. sonnei in southern Italy should be backdated to at least the late 1980s. In the following decades, the circulation of biotype g appears to be sustained by multiresistant highly related strains. Similar trend are described in several countries, but the questions about mechanism of emergence and worldwide spread of this pathogen remain open.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-117
PMCID: PMC1538607  PMID: 16846516

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