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J Hosp Infect. 2008 Aug;69(4):361-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2008.04.014. Epub 2008 Jul 7.

Bacillus cereus nosocomial infection from reused towels in Japan.

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Division of Bacteriology, Department of Infectious Disease Control and International Medicine, Niigata University Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Niigata, Japan.


It was noticed that there was an increase in Bacillus cereus nosocomial infections in the summer from 2000 to 2005. In 2005, five bloodstream infections occurred in five patients related to catheter use. The causative strains were distinct from each other and belonged to novel multilocus sequence types (ST): ST365, ST366, ST367 and ST368. Two ST365 strains from two patients were further distinguished by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. B. cereus contamination was observed with reused (dried and steamed) towels (>10(6)cfu/towel) and washing machines in hospital linen rooms. B. cereus strains from towels belonged to ST167, ST365, ST380 and ST382, and a proportion of these were the same, or similar, to strains from patients. All the hospital strains of B. cereus were distinct from those from food-poisoning strains (ST26, ST142, ST381). Ciprofloxacin resistance was observed only in hospital strains. Neither emetic toxin nor cytotoxin K gene, usually present in food poisoning strains, were found in the hospital strains, except for one patient isolate. The data suggest that specific B. cereus strains are circulating within a hospital, with genotypes, antibiotic susceptibilities and virulence gene patterns generally distinct from those of food poisoning, and that in Japan, towels are an important source of contamination, especially in summer.

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