Staff in the hospital itself may be the source of a nosocomial outbreak (NO). But the role of undetected carriers as an outbreak source is yet unknown.
A systematic review was conducted to evaluate outbreaks caused by health care workers (HCW). The Worldwide Outbreak Database and PubMed served as primary sources of data. Articles in English, German or French were included. Other reviews were excluded. There were no restrictions with respect to the date of publication.
Data on setting, pathogens, route of transmission, and characteristics of the HCW was retrieved. Data from large outbreaks were compared to smaller outbreaks.
152 outbreaks were included, mainly from surgery, neonatology, and gynecology departments. Most frequent corresponding infections were surgical site infections, infection by hepatitis B virus, and septicemia. Hepatitis B virus (27 NO), S. aureus (49 NO) and S. pyogenes (19 NO) were the predominant pathogens involved. 59 outbreaks (41.5%) derived from physicians and 56 outbreaks (39.4%) derived from nurses. Transmission mainly occurred via direct contact. Surgical and pediatric departments were significantly associated with smaller outbreaks, and gynecology with larger outbreaks. Awareness of carrier status significantly decreased the risk of causing large outbreaks.
As NO caused by HCW represent a rare event, screening of personnel should not be performed regularly. However, if certain species of microorganisms are involved, the possibility of a carrier should be taken into account.
Nosocomial outbreak; Staff; Personnel; Health care workers; Health care associated infection
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) may cause prolonged outbreaks of infections in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). While the specific factors favouring MRSA spread on neonatal wards are not well understood, colonized infants, their relatives, or health-care workers may all be sources for MRSA transmission. Whole-genome sequencing may provide a new tool for elucidating transmission pathways of MRSA at a local scale.
Methods and Findings
We applied whole-genome sequencing to trace MRSA spread in a NICU and performed a case-control study to identify risk factors for MRSA transmission. MRSA genomes had accumulated sequence variation sufficiently fast to reflect epidemiological linkage among individual patients, between infants and their mothers, and between infants and staff members, such that the relevance of individual nurses’ nasal MRSA colonization for prolonged transmission could be evaluated. In addition to confirming previously reported risk factors, we identified an increased risk of transmission from infants with as yet unknown MRSA colonisation, in contrast to known MRSA-positive infants.
The integration of epidemiological (temporal, spatial) and genomic data enabled the phylogenetic testing of several hypotheses on specific MRSA transmission routes within a neonatal intensive-care unit. The pronounced risk of transmission emanating from undetected MRSA carriers suggested that increasing the frequency or speed of microbiological diagnostics could help to reduce transmission of MRSA.
Surveillance of healthcare-associated infections (HAI) is a valuable measure to decrease infection rates. Across Europe, inter-country comparisons of HAI rates seem limited because some countries use US definitions from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC/NHSN) while other countries use European definitions from the Hospitals in Europe Link for Infection Control through Surveillance (HELICS/IPSE) project. In this study, we analyzed the concordance between US and European definitions of HAI.
An international working group of experts from seven European countries was set up to identify differences between US and European definitions and then conduct surveillance using both sets of definitions during a three-month period (March 1st -May 31st, 2010). Concordance between case definitions was estimated with Cohen’s kappa statistic (κ).
Differences in HAI definitions were found for bloodstream infection (BSI), pneumonia (PN), urinary tract infection (UTI) and the two key terms “intensive care unit (ICU)-acquired infection” and “mechanical ventilation”. Concordance was analyzed for these definitions and key terms with the exception of UTI. Surveillance was performed in 47 ICUs and 6,506 patients were assessed. One hundred and eighty PN and 123 BSI cases were identified. When all PN cases were considered, concordance for PN was κ = 0.99 [CI 95%: 0.98-1.00]. When PN cases were divided into subgroups, concordance was κ = 0.90 (CI 95%: 0.86-0.94) for clinically defined PN and κ = 0.72 (CI 95%: 0.63-0.82) for microbiologically defined PN. Concordance for BSI was κ = 0.73 [CI 95%: 0.66-0.80]. However, BSI cases secondary to another infection site (42% of all BSI cases) are excluded when using US definitions and concordance for BSI was κ = 1.00 when only primary BSI cases, i.e. Europe-defined BSI with ”catheter” or “unknown” origin and US-defined laboratory-confirmed BSI (LCBI), were considered.
Our study showed an excellent concordance between US and European definitions of PN and primary BSI. PN and primary BSI rates of countries using either US or European definitions can be compared if the points highlighted in this study are taken into account.
Bloodstream infection; Pneumonia; Definitions; Healthcare-associated infections
The German national nosocomial infection surveillance system, KISS, has a component for very low birth weight (VLBW) infants (called NEO-KISS) which changed from a system with voluntary participation and confidential data feedback to a system with mandatory participation and confidential feedback.
In order to compare voluntary and mandatory surveillance data, two groups were defined by the surveillance start date. Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) parameters and infection rates of the NICUs in both groups were compared. In order to analyze the surveillance effect on primary bloodstream infection rates (BSI), all VLBW infants within the first three years of participation in both groups were considered. The adjusted effect measures for the year of participation were calculated.
An increase from 49 NICUs participating in 2005 to 152 in 2006 was observed after the introduction of mandatory participation. A total of 4280 VLBW infants was included in this analysis. Healthcare-associated incidence densities rates were similar in both groups. Using multivariate analysis with the endpoint primary BSI rate and comparing the first and third year of participation lead to an adjusted incidence rate ratio (IRR) of 0.78 (CI95 0.66-0.93) for old (voluntary) and 0.81 (CI95 0.68-0.97) for new (mandatory) participants.
The step from a voluntary to a mandatory HCAI surveillance system alone may lead to substantial improvements on a countrywide scale.
Surveillance; Nosocomial infections; Neonatal intensive care unit; Bloodstream infection
Two MRSA surveillance components exist within the German national nosocomial infection surveillance system KISS: one for the whole hospital (i.e. only hospital based data and no rates for individual units) and one for ICU-based data (rates for each individual ICU). The objective of this study was to analyze which surveillance system (a hospital based or a unit based) leads to a greater decrease in incidence density of nosocomial MRSA
Two cohort studies of surveillance data were used: Data from a total of 224 hospitals and 359 ICUs in the period from 2004 to 2009. Development over time was described first for both surveillance systems. In a second step only data were analyzed from those hospitals/ICUs with continuous participation for at least four years. Incidence rate ratios (IRR) with 95% confidence intervals were calculated to compare incidence densities between different time intervals.
In the baseline year the mean MRSA incidence density of hospital acquired MRSA cases was 0.25 and the mean incidence density of ICU-acquired MRSA was 1.25 per 1000 patient days. No decrease in hospital-acquired MRSA rates was found in a total of 111 hospitals with continuous participation in the hospital- based system. However, in 159 ICUs with continuous participation in the unit-based system, a significant decrease of 29% in ICU-acquired MRSA was identified.
A unit-based approach of surveillance and feedback seems to be more successful in decreasing nosocomial MRSA rates, compared to a hospital-based approach. Therefore each surveillance system should provide unit-based data to stimulate activities on the unit level.
Infection prevention; Surveillance; MRSA; Quality management
By analysing the data of the intensive care unit (ICU) component of the German national nosocomial infection surveillance system (KISS) during the last ten years, we have observed a steady increase in the MRSA rates (proportions) from 2001 to 2005 and only a slight decrease from 2006 to 2010. The objective of this study was to investigate the development of the incidence density of nosocomial MRSA infections because this is the crucial outcome for patients.
Data from 103 ICUs with ongoing participation during the observation period were included. The pooled incidence density of nosocomial MRSA infections decreased significantly from 0.37 per 1000 patient days in 2001 to 0.15 per 1000 patient days in 2010 (RR = 0.40; CI95 0.29-0.55). This decrease was proportional to the significant decrease of all HCAI during the same time period (RR = 0.61; CI95 0.58-0.65).
The results underline the need to concentrate infection control activities on measures to control HCAI in general rather than focusing too much on specific MRSA prevention measures. MRSA rates (proportions) are not a very useful indicator of the situation.
Surveillance; MRSA; epidemiology; Staphylococcus aureus
Controversy exists about the benefit of screening for prevention of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in intensive care units (ICUs) and recent studies have shown conflicting results. The aim of this observational study was to describe and evaluate the association between MRSA incidence densities (IDs) and screening and control measures in ICUs participating in the German Nosocomial Infection Surveillance System.
The surveillance module for multidrug-resistant bacteria collects data on MRSA cases in ICUs with the aim to provide a national reference and a tool for evaluation of infection control management. The median IDs of MRSA cases per 1000 patient-days (pd) with the interquartile range (IQR) were calculated from the pooled data of 186 ICUs and correlated with parameters derived from a detailed questionnaire regarding ICU structure, microbiological diagnostics and MRSA screening and control measures. The association between questionnaire results and MRSA cases was evaluated by generalized linear regression models.
One hundred eighty-six ICUs submitted data on MRSA cases for 2007 and 2008 and completed the questionnaire. During the period of analysis, 4935 MRSA cases occurred in these ICUs; of these, 3928 (79.6%) were imported and 1007 MRSA cases (20.4%) were ICU-acquired. Median MRSA IDs were 3.23 (IQR 1.24-5.73), 2.24 (IQR 0.63-4.30) and 0.64 (IQR 0.17-1.39) per 1000 pd for all cases, imported and ICU-acquired MRSA cases, respectively. MRSA IDs as well as implemented MRSA screening and control measures varied widely between ICUs. ICUs performing universal admission screening had significantly higher MRSA IDs than ICUs performing targeted or no screening. Separate regression models for ICUs with different screening strategies included the incidence of imported MRSA cases, the type of ICU, and the length of stay in independent association with the number of ICU-acquired MRSA cases.
The analysis shows that MRSA IDs and structural parameters differ considerably between ICUs. In response, ICUs have combined screening and control measures in many ways to achieve various individual solutions. The incidence of imported MRSA cases might be helpful for consideration in the planning of MRSA control programmes.
As the most common invasive fungal infection, invasive aspergillosis (IA) remains a serious complication in immunocompromised patients, leading to increased mortality. Antifungal therapy is expensive and may result in severe adverse effects.
The aim of this study was to determine the incidence of invasive aspergillosis (IA) cases in a tertiary care university hospital using a standardized surveillance method.
All inpatients at our facility were screened for presence of the following parameters: positive microbiological culture, pathologist's diagnosis and antifungal treatment as reported by the hospital pharmacy. Patients fulfilling one or more of these indicators were further reviewed and, if appropriate, classified according to international consensus criteria (EORTC).
704 patients were positive for at least one of the indicators mentioned above. Applying the EORTC criteria, 214 IA cases were detected, of which 56 were proven, 25 probable and 133 possible. 44 of the 81 (54%) proven and probable cases were considered health-care associated. 37 of the proven/probable IA cases had received solid organ transplantation, an additional 8 had undergone stem cell transplantation, and 10 patients were suffering from some type of malignancy. All the other patients in this group were also suffering from severe organic diseases, required long treatment and experienced several clinical complications. 7 of the 56 proven cases would have been missed without autopsy. After the antimycotic prophylaxis regimen was altered, we noticed a significant decrease (p = 0.0004) of IA during the investigation period (2003-2007).
Solid organ and stem cell transplantation remain important risk factors for IA, but several other types of immunosuppression should also be kept in mind. Clinical diagnosis of IA may be difficult (in this study 13% of all proven cases were diagnosed by autopsy only). Thus, we confirm the importance of IA surveillance in all high-risk patients.
surveillance; invasive Aspergillosis; epidemiology; pathology
A semi-upright position in ventilated patients is recommended to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) and is one of the components in the Ventilator Bundle of the Institute for Health Care Improvement. This recommendation, however, is not an evidence-based one.
A systematic review on the benefits and disadvantages of semi-upright position in ventilated patients was done according to PRISMA guidelines. Then a European expert panel developed a recommendation based on the results of the systematic review and considerations beyond the scientific evidence in a three-round electronic Delphi procedure.
Three trials (337 patients) were included in the review. The results showed that it was uncertain whether a 45° bed head elevation was effective or harmful with regard to the occurrence of clinically suspected VAP, microbiologically confirmed VAP, decubitus and mortality, and that it was unknown whether 45° elevation for 24 hours a day increased the risk for thromboembolism or hemodynamic instability. A group of 22 experts recommended elevating the head of the bed of mechanically ventilated patients to a 20 to 45° position and preferably to a ≥30° position as long as it does not pose risks or conflicts with other nursing tasks, medical interventions or patients' wishes.
Although the review failed to prove clinical benefits of bed head elevation, experts prefer this position in ventilated patients. They made clear that the position of a ventilated patient in bed depended on many determinants. Therefore, given the scientific uncertainty about the benefits and harms of a semi-upright position, this position could only be recommended as the preferred position with the necessary restrictions.
The epidemiology of MRSA pneumonia varies across countries. One of the most import risk factors for the development of nosocomial MRSA pneumonia is mechanical ventilation. Methicillin resistance in S. aureus ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) ranged between 37% in German, 54% in the US American and 78% in Asian and Latin American ICUs. In 2009, the incidence density of nosocomial VAP caused by MRSA was 0.28 per 1000 ventilation days in a network of 586 German ICUs. Incidences peaked in neurological and neurosurgical ICUs. Crude hospital mortality in studies performed after 2005 lay between 27% and 59% and attributable MRSA pneumonia mortality at 40%. Since 2005, US American and German data indicate decreasing trends for MRSA pneumonia. Measures to reduce MRSA pneumonia or to control the spread of MRSA include hand hygiene, standard and contact precautions, oral contamination with chlor hexidine, skin decontamination with antiseptics, screening, and (possibly) patient isolation in a single room.
methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus; pneumonia; nosocomial; mortality; risk factor; age; change over time
The objective of the present study was to analyse secular trends in antibiotic consumption and resistance data from a network of 53 intensive care units (ICUs).
The study involved prospective unit and laboratory-based surveillance in 53 German ICUs from 2001 through 2008. Data were calculated on the basis of proportions of nonduplicate resistant isolates, resistance densities (that is, the number of resistant isolates of a species per 1,000 patient-days) and an antimicrobial usage density (AD) expressed as daily defined doses (DDD) and normalised per 1,000 patient-days.
Total mean antibiotic use remained stable over time and amounted to 1,172 DDD/1,000 patient-days (range 531 to 2,471). Carbapenem use almost doubled to an AD of 151 in 2008. Significant increases were also calculated for quinolone (AD of 163 in 2008) and third-generation and fourth-generation cephalosporin use (AD of 117 in 2008). Aminoglycoside consumption decreased substantially (AD of 86 in 2001 and 24 in 2008). Resistance proportions were as follows in 2001 and 2008, respectively: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) 26% and 20% (P = 0.006; trend test showed a significant decrease), vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE) faecium 2.3% and 8.2% (P = 0.008), third-generation cephalosporin (3GC)-resistant Escherichia. coli 1.2% and 19.7% (P < 0.001), 3GC-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae 3.8% and 25.5% (P < 0.001), imipenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii 1.1% and 4.5% (P = 0.002), and imipenem-resistant K. pneumoniae 0.4% and 1.1%. The resistance densities did not change for MRSA but increased significantly for VRE faecium and 3GC-resistant E. coli and K. pneumoniae. In 2008, the resistance density for MRSA was 3.73, 0.48 for VRE, 1.39 for 3GC-resistant E. coli and 0.82 for K. pneumoniae.
Although total antibiotic use did not change over time in German ICUs, carbapenem use doubled. This is probably due to the rise in 3GC-resistant E. coli and K. pneumoniae. Increased carbapenem consumption was associated with carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae carbapenemase-producing bacteria and imipenem-resistant A. baumannii.
Because of better comfort, air conditioning systems are a common feature in automobiles these days. However, its impact on the number of particles and microorganisms inside the vehicle - and by this its impact on the risk of an allergic reaction - is yet unknown.
Over a time period of 30 months, the quality of air was investigated in three different types of cars (VW Passat, VW Polo FSI, Seat Alhambra) that were all equipped with a automatic air conditioning system. Operation modes using fresh air from outside the car as well as circulating air from inside the car were examined. The total number of microorganisms and the number of mold spores were measured by impaction in a high flow air sampler. Particles of 0.5 to 5.0 μm diameter were counted by a laser particle counter device.
Overall 32 occasions of sampling were performed. The concentration of microorganisms outside the cars was always higher than it was inside the cars. Few minutes after starting the air conditioning system the total number of microorganisms was reduced by 81.7%, the number of mold spores was reduced by 83.3%, and the number of particles was reduced by 87.8%. There were no significant differences neither between the types of cars nor between the types of operation mode of the air conditioning system (fresh air vs. circulating air). All parameters that were looked for in this study improved during utilization of the car's air conditioning system.
We believe that the risk of an allergic reaction will be reduced during use also. Nevertheless, we recommend regular maintenance of the system and replacement of older filters after defined changing intervals.
The choice of empirical treatment of nosocomial pneumonia in the intensive-care unit (ICU) used to rely on the interval after the start of mechanical ventilation. Nowadays, however, the question of whether in fact there is a difference in the distribution of causative pathogens is under debate. Data from 308 ICUs from the German National Nosocomial Infection Surveillance System, including information on relevant pathogens isolated in 11,285 cases of nosocomial pneumonia from 1997 to 2004, were used for our evaluation. Each individual pneumonia case was allocated either to early- or to late-onset pneumonia, with three differentiation criteria: onset on the 4th day, the 5th day, or the 7th day in the ICU. The frequency of pathogens was evaluated according to these categories. A total of 5,066 additional cases of pneumonia were reported from 2005 to 2006, after the CDC criteria had been modified. From 1997 to 2004, the most frequent microorganisms were Staphylococcus aureus (2,718 cases, including 720 with methicillin [meticillin]-resistant S. aureus), followed by Pseudomonas aeruginosa (1,837 cases), Klebsiella pneumoniae (1,305 cases), Escherichia coli (1,137 cases), Enterobacter spp. (937 cases), streptococci (671 cases), Haemophilus influenzae (509 cases), Acinetobacter spp. (493 cases), and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia (308 cases). The order of the four most frequent pathogens (accounting for 53.7% of all pathogens) was the same in both groups and was independent of the cutoff categories applied: S. aureus was first, followed by P. aeruginosa, K. pneumoniae, and E. coli. Thus, the predictabilities of the occurrence of pathogens were similar for the earlier (1997-to-2004) and later (2005-to-2006) time frames. This classification is no longer helpful for empirical antibiotic therapy, since the pathogens are the same for both groups.
Bacteria in the hospital's drinking water system represent a risk for the acquisition of a nosocomial infection in the severely immunocompromised host. Terminal tap water filters may be used to prevent nosocomial Legionnaires' disease. We present data from water samples using an improved kind of tap water filters.
In a blinded study on an intermediate care unit of the thoracic surgery department, a modified type of the Germlyser water filter (Aqua-Free Membrane Technology) with a newly-introduced silver layer on the filtration membrane was compared to its preceding type without such a layer on 15 water outlets. We determined growth of Legionella, other pathogenic bacteria, and the total heterotrophic plate count in unfiltered water and filtered water samples after filter usage intervals of 1 through 4 weeks.
A total of 299 water samples were tested. Twenty-nine of the 60 unfiltered water samples contained Legionella of various serogroups (baseline value). In contrast, all samples filtered by the original water filter and all but one of the water samples filtered by the modified filter type remained Legionella-free. No other pathogenic bacteria were detected in any filtered sample. The total plate count in water samples increased during use of both kinds of filters over time. However, for the first 7 days of use, there were significantly fewer water samples containing >100 CFU per mL when using the new filter device compared with the older filters or taps with no filter. No advantage was seen thereafter.
The use of this type of terminal water filter is an appropriate method to protect immunocompromised patients from water-borne pathogens such as Legionella.
Pneumonia is a very common nosocomial infection in intensive care units (ICUs). Many studies have investigated risk factors for the development of infection and its consequences. However, the evaluation in most of theses studies disregards the fact that there are additional competing events, such as discharge or death.
A prospective cohort study was conducted over 18 months in five intensive care units at one university hospital. All patients that were admitted for at least 2 days were included, and surveillance of nosocomial pneumonia was conducted. Various potential risk factors (baseline- and time-dependent) were evaluated in two competing risks models: the acquisition of nosocomial pneumonia and discharge (dead or alive; model 1) and for the risk of death in the ICU and discharge alive (model 2).
Patients from 1,876 admissions were included. A total of 158 patients developed nosocomial pneumonia. The main risk factors for nosocomial pneumonia in the multivariate analysis in model 1 were: elective surgery (cause-specific hazard ratio = 1.95; 95% CI 1.33 to 2.85) or emergency surgery (1.59; 95% CI 1.10 to 2.28) prior to ICU admission, usage of a nasogastric tube (3.04; 95% CI 1.25 to 7.37) and mechanical ventilation (5.90; 95% CI 2.47 to 14.09). Nosocomial pneumonia prolonged the length of ICU stay but was not directly associated with a fatal outcome (p = 0.55).
More studies using competing risk models, which provide more accurate data compared to naive survival curves or logistic models, should be carried out to verify the impact of risk factors and patient characteristics for the acquisition of nosocomial infections and infection-associated mortality.
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 was identified in respiratory specimens from a cluster of eight patients on a surgical intensive care unit within 8 weeks. Six of these patients suffered from HSV-related tracheobronchitis and one from HSV-related pneumonia only. Our outbreak investigation aimed to determine the clinical relevance of and risk factors associated with HSV-related tracheobronchitis or pneumonia in critically ill patients, and to investigate whether the cluster was caused by nosocomial transmission.
A retrospective cohort study was performed to identify risk factors for the outcomes of HSV-related tracheobronchitis or pneumonia and death using univariable analysis as well as logistic regression analysis. Viruses were typed by molecular analysis of a fragment of the HSV type 1 glycoprotein G.
The cohort of patients covering the outbreak period comprised 53 patients, including six patients with HSV-related tracheobronchitis and one patient with pneumonia only. HSV-related tracheobronchitis or pneumonia was associated with increased mortality (100% in patients with versus 17.8% in patients without HSV-related tracheobronchitis or pneumonia; P < 0.0001). The interaction of longer duration of ventilation and tracheotomy was associated with HSV-related tracheobronchitis or pneumonia in multivariable analysis.
Identical HSV type 1 glycoprotein G sequences were found in three patients and in two patients. The group of three identical viral sequences belonged to a widely circulating strain. The two identical viral sequences were recovered from bronchoalveolar lavages of one patient with HSV-related tracheobronchitis and of one patient without clinical symptoms. These viral sequences showed unique polymorphisms, indicating probable nosocomial transmission.
HSV-related tracheobronchitis or pneumonia is associated with increased mortality in critically ill patients. Care should be taken to avoid nosocomial transmission and early diagnosis should be attempted.
Clostridium difficile; epidemiology; Germany; letter