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Lancet. 1993 Jul 10;342(8863):76-9.

Emergence of vancomycin-resistant enterococci in New York City.

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  • 1Division of Field Epidemiology, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NY.


Enterococci, a common cause of nosocomial infection, are intrinsically resistant to most antimicrobials and readily acquire additional resistance. Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) have caused clusters of nosocomial infections since 1988. In April, 1991, the New York City Department of Health asked all city laboratories to submit suspected VRE isolates for confirmation. Clinical and epidemiological characteristics of the first 100 patients with VRE were identified, and antimicrobial susceptibility testing, restriction enzyme analysis, and DNA-DNA hybridisation with the vanA gene probe were done. From September, 1989, to October, 1991, 361 patients with VRE were identified at 38 hospitals. The number of hospitals reporting VRE increased from 1 in 1989 to 38 by October, 1991. 98% of 100 VRE infections were nosocomially acquired and 83% patients had received vancomycin and/or a cephalosporin in the 30 days before isolation of VRE. Of 23 isolates from 21 of the first 100 patients, 19 (83%) were resistant to all available antimicrobials. Four vanA probing patterns were noted, and restriction enzyme analysis of the 23 isolates revealed 14 strains. VRE have emerged rapidly in New York City. Molecular analyses suggest that a highly mobile genetic element--eg, a transposon--is responsible for the rapid spread of vancomycin resistance.

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