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Am J Infect Control. 2001 Apr;29(2):126-9.

Paenibacillus macerans pseudobacteremia resulting from contaminated blood culture bottles in a neonatal intensive care unit.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Pathology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.


Paenibacillus species are gram-positive, rod-shaped, spore-forming aerobes that are abundant in nature and closely related to Bacillus. Between June 24 and June 30, 1999, 8 neonates in our neonatal intensive care unit had positive blood cultures for Paenibacillus macerans. This cluster of positive blood cultures with an unusual pathogen suggested a pseudoepidemic. Investigation revealed that the most likely etiology of the pseudobacteremia was environmental contamination of the rubber stoppers in blood culture bottles. This was confirmed by environmental sampling and simulated inoculation studies. This pseudobacteremia outbreak highlights the importance of adhering to well-established methods for blood culture collection and ongoing infection control surveillance.

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