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Am J Infect Control. 1998 Dec;26(6):544-51.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Acinetobacter baumannii: an unexpected difference in epidemiologic behavior.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.



The Dutch guideline on hospital policy for the prevention of nosocomial spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) states that patients transferred from hospitals abroad must be placed in strict isolation immediately on admission to a hospital in the Netherlands. Three patients colonized with both MRSA and a multiresistant Acinetobacter were transferred from hospitals in Mediterranean countries to 3 different hospitals in the Netherlands. Despite isolation precautions, Acinetobacter spread in 2 of the 3 hospitals, whereas nosocomial spread of MRSA did not occur.


For outbreak analysis, the Acinetobacter isolates, identified as Acinetobacter baumannii by the use of amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis, were comparatively typed by 4 methods. Comparison of isolation measures in the hospitals was performed retrospectively.


In the 2 hospitals in which nosocomial spread of Acinetobacter occurred, most of the epidemiologically related isolates were indistinguishable from the index strains. In these 2 hospitals, isolation measures were in concordance with those recommended for the prevention of contact transmission. The precautions of the hospital in which no outbreak occurred included the prevention of airborne transmission.


Precautions recommended for multiresistant gram-negative organisms are insufficient for the prevention of nosocomial spread of multiresistant Acinetobacter. The airborne mode of spread of acinetobacters should be taken into account, and guidelines should be revised accordingly.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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