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J Clin Microbiol. 2012 May;50(5):1558-63. doi: 10.1128/JCM.00020-12. Epub 2012 Mar 7.

Fecal carriage of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae: a hidden reservoir in hospitalized and nonhospitalized patients.

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  • 1Servicio de Microbiología and CIBER en Epidemiología y Salud Pública and Instituto Ramón y Cajal de Investigación Sanitaria, Madrid, Spain.


Fecal carriage of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) has not been extensively investigated, except in the cases of selected patients at risk, mostly during outbreaks. A total of 1,100 fecal samples randomly collected in our institution in two different periods in 2006 (n = 600) and 2009-2010 (n = 500) from hospitalized (26.8%) and nonhospitalized (73.2%) patients were screened for CPE. The first period coincided with an outbreak of VIM-1-producing Enterobacteriaceae, and the second one coincided with the emergence of KPC enzymes in our hospital. Diluted samples in saline were cultured in Luria-Bertani broth with 1 μg/ml imipenem and subcultured in MacConkey agar plates with 4 μg/ml ceftazidime. Growing colonies were screened for CPE (modified Hodge test and EDTA and boronic acid synergy tests). Carbapenemase genes, plasmids in which they are located, and clonal relatedness were determined. Individuals who exhibited fecal carriage of CPE (11/1,043, 1.1%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.53 to 1.88) included 8 hospitalized (carriage rate, 2.9%; 95% CI, 1.24 to 5.55) and 3 nonhospitalized patients (carriage rate, 0.4%; 95% CI, 0.08 to 1.14), the latter being identified in 2009. Eighty-two percent of colonized patients were not infected with CPE. Isolates harboring bla(VIM-1) with or without bla(SHV-12) were identified as Klebsiella pneumoniae (n = 8; ST39, ST688, ST253, and ST163), Enterobacter cloacae (n = 3; two pulsed-field gel electrophoresis [PFGE] types), Escherichia coli (n = 2; ST155 and ST2441), and Citrobacter freundii (n = 1). Some of these lineages had previously been detected in our institution. The bla(VIM-1) gene was a member of the class 1 integrons In110 (bla(VIM-1)-aacA4-aadA1) and In113 (bla(VIM-1)-aacA4-dhfrII) located on plasmids IncN (n = 11; 30 to 50 kb) and IncHI2 (n = 3; 300 kb), respectively. Dissemination of bla(VIM-1) class-1 integrons within highly transferable plasmids in a polyclonal population has potentially contributed to the maintenance and spread of CPE.

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