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      Control of a hospital-wide vancomycin-resistant Enterococci outbreak


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          To analyze control measures used to eradicate a large vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) outbreak in a nonendemic 1600-bed tertiary care institution.


          In mid-March 2005, VRE Van B was isolated from 2 clinical samples from different wards. Despite such measures as screening patients sharing rooms with index cases and isolating VRE patients, 43 isolates from different wards were detected by the end of March 2005. To eradicate a hospital-wide outbreak, a coordinated strategy between March and June 2005 comprised (1) formation of a VRE task force, (2) hospital-wide screening, (3) isolation of carriers, (4) physical segregation of contacts, (5) surveillance of high-risk groups, (6) increased cleaning, (7) electronic tagging of VRE status, and (8) education and audits. This is a retrospective study of this multipronged approach to containing VRE. The adequacy of rectal swab sampling for VRE was assessed in a substudy of 111 patients. The prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)/VRE co-colonization or co-infection also was determined.


          A total of 19,574 contacts were identified. Between April and June 2005, 5095 patients were screened, yielding 104 VRE carriers, 54 of whom (52%) were detected in the first 2 weeks of hospital-wide screening. The initial positive yield of 11.4% of persons actively screened declined to 4.2% by the end of June 2005. Pulsed-field typing revealed 1 major clone and several minor clones among the 151 total VRE cases, including 4 clinical cases. Hospital-wide physical segregation of contacts from other patients was difficult to achieve in communal wards. Co-colonization or co-infection with MRSA, which was present in 52 of 151 cases (34%) and the indefinite electronic tagging of positive VRE status strained limited isolation beds. Analysis of 2 fecal or rectal specimens collected 1 day apart may detect at least 83% of VRE carriers.


          A multipronged strategy orchestrated by a central task force curbed but could not eradicate VRE. Control measures were confounded by hospital infrastructure and high MRSA endemicity.

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          Most cited references8

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          SHEA guideline for preventing nosocomial transmission of multidrug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus and enterococcus.

          Infection control programs were created three decades ago to control antibiotic-resistant healthcare-associated infections, but there has been little evidence of control in most facilities. After long, steady increases of MRSA and VRE infections in NNIS System hospitals, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Board of Directors made reducing antibiotic-resistant infections a strategic SHEA goal in January 2000. After 2 more years without improvement, a SHEA task force was appointed to draft this evidence-based guideline on preventing nosocomial transmission of such pathogens, focusing on the two considered most out of control: MRSA and VRE. Medline searches were conducted spanning 1966 to 2002. Pertinent abstracts of unpublished studies providing sufficient data were included. Frequent antibiotic therapy in healthcare settings provides a selective advantage for resistant flora, but patients with MRSA or VRE usually acquire it via spread. The CDC has long-recommended contact precautions for patients colonized or infected with such pathogens. Most facilities have required this as policy, but have not actively identified colonized patients with surveillance cultures, leaving most colonized patients undetected and unisolated. Many studies have shown control of endemic and/or epidemic MRSA and VRE infections using surveillance cultures and contact precautions, demonstrating consistency of evidence, high strength of association, reversibility, a dose gradient, and specificity for control with this approach. Adjunctive control measures are also discussed. Active surveillance cultures are essential to identify the reservoir for spread of MRSA and VRE infections and make control possible using the CDC's long-recommended contact precautions.
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            Comparison of mortality associated with vancomycin-resistant and vancomycin-susceptible enterococcal bloodstream infections: a meta-analysis.

            Whether vancomycin resistance is independently associated with mortality among patients with enterococcal bloodstream infection (BSI) is controversial. To address this issue, we performed a systematic literature review with meta-analysis. Data sources were studies identified using the MEDLINE database (for articles from 1988 through March 2003), the Cochrane Library (for articles published up to March 2003), and bibliographies of identified articles. Inclusion criteria were that the study assessed mortality after enterococcal BSI, compared mortality after vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) BSI with that after vancomycin-susceptible enterococci (VSE) BSI, and adjusted for severity of illness. Study exclusion criteria were as follows: no report of the adjusted measure of effect (adjusted odds ratio [OR], adjusted hazard ratio, or adjusted relative risk) of vancomycin resistance on mortality available and/or its adjusted 95% confidence interval (95% CI). Data in the tables, figures, or text were independently extracted by 2 of the authors. Individual weights were calculated using the 95% CI of the adjusted measures of effect performing both fixed-effect and random-effects models. Nine studies were eligible (11 studies met the inclusion criteria, and 2 were excluded), with a total of 1614 enterococcal BSI episodes (683 VRE episodes and 931 VSE episodes). Patients with bacteremia caused by VRE were more likely to die than were those with VSE bacteremia (summary OR, 2.52; 95% CI, 1.9-3.4). Vancomycin resistance is independently associated with increased mortality among patients with enterococcal bloodstream infection.
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              Reduction in acquisition of vancomycin-resistant enterococcus after enforcement of routine environmental cleaning measures.

              The role of environmental contamination in nosocomial cross-transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been unresolved. Using vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) as a marker organism, we investigated the effects of improved environmental cleaning with and without promotion of hand hygiene adherence on the spread of VRE in a medical intensive care unit. The study comprised a baseline period (period 1), a period of educational intervention to improve environmental cleaning (period 2), a "washout" period without any specific intervention (period 3), and a period of multimodal hand hygiene intervention (period 4). We performed cultures for VRE of rectal swab samples obtained from patients at admission to the intensive care unit and daily thereafter, and we performed cultures of environmental samples and samples from the hands of health care workers twice weekly. We measured patient clinical and demographic variables and monitored intervention adherence frequently. Our study included 748 admissions to the intensive care unit over a 9-month period. VRE acquisition rates were 33.47 cases per 1000 patient-days at risk for period 1 and 16.84, 12.09, and 10.40 cases per 1000 patient-days at risk for periods 2, 3, and 4, respectively. The mean (+/-SD) weekly rate of environmental sites cleaned increased from 0.48+/-0.08 at baseline to 0.87+/-0.08 in period 2; similarly high cleaning rates persisted in periods 3 and 4. Mean (+/-SD) weekly hand hygiene adherence rate was 0.40+/-0.01 at baseline and increased to 0.57+/-0.11 in period 2, without a specific intervention to improve adherence, but decreased to 0.29+/-0.26 in period 3 and 0.43+/-0.1 in period 4. Mean proportions of positive results of cultures of environmental and hand samples decreased in period 2 and remained low thereafter. In a Cox proportional hazards model, the hazard ratio for acquiring VRE during periods 2-4 was 0.36 (95% confidence interval, 0.19-0.68); the only determinant explaining the difference in VRE acquisition was admission to the intensive care unit during period 1. Decreasing environmental contamination may help to control the spread of some antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals.

                Author and article information

                Am J Infect Control
                Am J Infect Control
                American Journal of Infection Control
                Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. Published by Mosby, Inc.
                24 March 2008
                April 2008
                24 March 2008
                : 36
                : 3
                : 206-211
                [a ]Infection Control Unit, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore
                [c ]Department of Pathology, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore
                [b ]Department of Medicine, Changi General Hospital, Singapore
                Author notes
                []Address correspondence to Asok Kurup, MRCP, Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician, Department of Internal Medicine, Singapore General Hospital, Outram Road, Singapore 169608. asok.kurup@ 123456sgh.com.sg
                Copyright © 2008 Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

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