Intensive Care Unit Outbreak of Extended-Spectrum β-Lactamase–Producing Klebsiella Pneumoniae Controlled by Cohorting Patients and Reinforcing Infection Control Measures

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To describe an outbreak of extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)–producing Klebsiella pneumoniae in the intensive care units (ICUs) of a hospital and the impact of routine and reinforced infection control measures on interrupting nosocomial transmission.


Outbreak report.


A 31-bed intensive care department (composed of 4 ICUs) in a university hospital in Belgium.


After routine infection control measures (based on biweekly surveillance cultures and contact precautions) failed to interrupt a 2-month outbreak of ESBL-producing K. pneumoniae, reinforced infection control measures were implemented. The frequency of surveillance cultures was increased to daily sampling. Colonized patients were moved to a dedicated 6-bed ICU, where they received cohorted care with the support of additional nurses. Two beds were closed to new admissions in the intensive care department. Meetings between the ICU and infection control teams were held every day. Postdischarge disinfection of rooms was enforced. Broad-spectrum antibiotic use was discouraged.


Compared with a baseline rate of 0.44 cases per 1,000 patient-days for nosocomial transmission, the incidence peaked at 11.57 cases per 1,000 patient-days (October and November 2005; rate ratio for peak vs baseline, 25.46). The outbreak involved 30 patients, of whom 9 developed an infection. Bacterial genotyping disclosed that the outbreak was polyclonal, with 1 predominant genotype. Reinforced infection control measures lasted for 50 days. After the implementation of these measures, the incidence fell to 0.08 cases per 1,000 patient-days (rate ratio for after the outbreak vs during the outbreak, 0.11).


These data indicate that, in an intensive care department in which routine screening and contact precautions failed to prevent and interrupt an outbreak of ESBL-producing K. pneumoniae, reinforced infection control measures controlled the outbreak without major disruption of medical care.

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