Outbreak of Serratia marcescens Bloodstream and Central Nervous System Infections After Interventional Pain Management Procedures

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ObjectivesTo determine the cause of an outbreak of Serratia marcescens infections in patients after interventional pain management procedures at an outpatient pain clinic.MethodsWe conducted a case-control study and collected clinical and environmental samples.ResultsWe identified 5 culture-confirmed case-patients and 2 presumptive case-patients who had no bacteria recovered from cultures. The 7 case-patients were compared with 28 controls who underwent procedures at the same clinic but did not develop symptoms of infection. All confirmed case-patients had S. marcescens bloodstream infections; 2 had concurrent S. marcescens central nervous system infections. Case-patients were more likely than controls to have procedures that used contrast solution or entered the epidural or intervertebral disc space (P≤0.01 for each). All S. marcescens clinical isolates were indistinguishable by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. We did not isolate S. marcescens from medications or environmental samples; however, S. marcescens was shown to survive and grow in contrast solution that was experimentally contaminated for up to 30 days. Single-dose vials of medication, including contrast solution, were used for multiple procedures; multiple medications were accessed with a common needle and syringe.DiscussionThe findings of this investigation suggest contamination of a common medication, likely contrast solution, as the source of the outbreak. Practices, such as reusing single-dose medication vials and using a common needle and syringe to access multiple medications, could have led to contamination and propagation of S. marcescens and should be avoided in interventional pain management procedures.

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