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J Hosp Infect. 2006 May;63(1):27-33. Epub 2006 Mar 3.

An outbreak of Serratia marcescens on the neonatal unit: a tale of two clones.

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Microbiology Department, City Hospital, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, UK.


Serratia spp. are an important cause of hospital-acquired infections and outbreaks in high-risk settings. Twenty-one patients were infected or colonized over a nine-month period during 2001-2002 on a neonatal unit. Twenty-two isolates collected were examined for antibiotic susceptibility, beta-lactamase production and genotype. Random-amplified polymorphic DNA polymerase chain reaction and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis revealed that two clones were present. The first clone caused invasive clinical infection in four babies, and was subsequently replaced by a non-invasive clone that affected 14 babies. Phenotypically, the two strains also differed in their prodigiosin production; the first strain was non-pigmented whereas the second strain displayed pink-red pigmentation. Clinical features suggested a difference in their pathogenicity. No environmental source was found. The outbreak terminated following enhanced compliance with infection control measures and a change of antibiotic policy. Although S. marcescens continued to be isolated occasionally for another five months of follow-up, these were sporadic isolates with distinct molecular typing patterns.

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