Hospital-Acquired Invasive Group A Streptococcal Infections in Ontario, Canada, 1992-2000


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Abstract

Background.A significant proportion of invasive group A streptococcal infections are hospital acquired. No large, prospective studies have characterized this subgroup of cases and evaluated the risk of transmission in hospitals.Methods.We conducted prospective, population-based surveillance of invasive group A streptococcal infections in Ontario, Canada, from 1992 to 2000. Epidemiologic and microbiologic investigations were conducted to identify cross-transmission.Results.We identified 291 hospital-acquired cases (12.4%) among 2351 cases of invasive group A streptococcal disease. Hospital-acquired invasive group A streptococcal infections are heterogeneous, including surgical site (96 cases), postpartum (86 cases), and nonsurgical, nonobstetrical infections (109 cases). Surgical site infections affected 1 of 100,000 surgical procedures and involved all organ systems. Postpartum infections occurred at a rate of 0.7 cases per 10,000 live births and exhibited an excellent prognosis. Nonsurgical, nonobstetrical infections encompassed a broad range of infectious syndromes (case-fatality rate, 37%). Nine percent of cases were associated with in-hospital transmission. Transmission occurred from 3 of 142 patients with community-acquired cases of necrotizing fasciitis requiring intensive care unit (ICU) admission, compared with 1 of 367 patients with community-acquired cases without necrotizing fasciitis admitted to the ICU and 1 of 1551 patients with other cases (P < .001). Fifteen outbreaks were identified; 9 (60%) involved only 2 cases. Hospital staff were infected in 1 of 15 outbreaks, but colonized staff were identified in 6 (60%) of 10 investigations in which staff were screened.Conclusions.Presentation of hospital-associated invasive group A streptococcal infections is diverse. Cross-transmission is common; illness occurs in patients but rarely in staff. Isolation of new cases of necrotizing fasciitis and intervention after a single nosocomial case may also prevent transmission.

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