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Nosocomial Mycobacterial Pseudoinfection in a Georgia Hospital

  • Richard A. Goodman (a1), J. David Smith (a1), George P. Kubica (a1), Ellen M. Dougherty (a1) and R. Keith Sikes (a1)...


Nosocomial pseudoepidemics may be detected when clustering of pseudoinfections occur or when artificial clusters of real infection are observed. Nontuberculous mycobacteria were reportedly isolated from specimens obtained from seven patients at one hospital from October 1980 to January 1981. Because the patients' clinical illnesses were not uniformly consistent with mycobacterial disease, we hypothesized that pseudoinfections had occurred and searched for a common source of contamination. The investigation suggested that specimen contamination was associated with one microbiology laboratory technician: 6 of 22 (27%) specimens processed by that person were positive compared with 1 of 103 (1%) specimens processed by the other five technicians. However, a specific mechanism of contamination was not identified. Nosocomial pseudoepidemics associated with false infections should be suspected and investigated when clinical features and laboratory findings do not agree.


Corresponding author

Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90024


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