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J Hosp Infect. 2003 Jan;53(1):31-8.

Successful control of an Acinetobacter baumannii outbreak in a neonatal intensive care unit.

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  • 1The Pediatric Infectious Disease Unit, Soroka University Medical Center and the Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel.


We describe an outbreak of Acinetobacter baumannii in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and our investigation to determine the source and mode of transmission and identify the population at risk. A case (infected infant) was defined as a patient hospitalized in the NICU during the outbreak period, with clinical signs of sepsis and isolation of A. baumannii. In colonized infants, A. baumannii was isolated from body surfaces without signs of infection. Infected infants were separated and treated by a different medical team. Cultures were taken from working surfaces and along the infant's admission passage from the delivery room to the NICU. The outbreak strain was identified by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Nine cases and eight colonized infants met the definition criteria. Cases were younger than colonized infants with regard to gestational age and age of diagnosis and had lower birthweights (P<0.01). The outbreak strain was only isolated from hygroscopic bandages used on skin under the ventilation tube and umbilical catheters. Discontinuing the use of the bandages put an end to the outbreak. We conclude that a rapid and thorough investigation of the environment during an outbreak of A. baumannii is essential to finding the source of the infection, and that hygroscopic bandages may be a source of such outbreaks.

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