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To evaluate individuals at high risk for tuberculosis exposure who had a history of a positive tuberculin skin test (TST) result in order to determine the prevalence of unsuspected negative TST results. To confirm these findings with the QuantiFERON-TB test (QFT), an in vitro whole-blood assay that measures tuberculin-induced secretion of interferon-γ.
This survey was conducted from November 2001 through December 2003 at 3 sites where TST screening is regularly done. Detailed histories and reviews of medical records were performed. TSTs were placed and read by 2 experienced healthcare workers, and blood was drawn for QFT. Any subject with a negative result of an initial TST during the study (induration diameter, <10 mm) underwent a second TST and a second QFT. The TST-negative group comprised individuals for whom both TSTs had an induration diameter of <10 mm. The confirmed-negative group comprised individuals for whom both TSTs yielded no detectable induration and results of both QFTs were negative.
A total of 67 immunocompetent subjects with positive results of a previous TST were enrolled in the study. Of 56 subjects who completed the TST protocol, 25 (44.6%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 31.6%-57.6%) were TST negative (P<.001). Of 31 subjects who completed the TST protocol and the QFT protocol, 8 (25.8%; 95% CI, 10.4%-41.2%) were confirmed negative (P<.005).
A significant proportion of subjects with positive results of a previous TST were TST negative in this study, and a subset of these were confirmed negative. These individuals' TST status may have reverted or may never have been positive. It will be important in future studies to determine whether such individuals lack immunity to tuberculosis and whether they should be considered for reentry into tuberculosis screening programs.
To evaluate the influence of performance of active surveillance cultures for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on the incidence of nosocomial MRSA bacteremia in an endemic hospital.
A 700-bed hospital.
All patients admitted to the hospital who were at high risk for MRSA bacteremia.
Performance of surveillance cultures for detection of MRSA were recommended for all patients at high risk, and contact isolation was implemented for patients with positive results of culture. Each MRSA-positive patient received one course of eradication treatment. We compared the total number of surveillance cultures, the percentage of surveillance cultures with positive results, and the number of MRSA bacteremia cases before the intervention (from January 2002 through February 2003) after the start of the intervention (from July 2003 through October 2004).
The number of surveillance cultures performed increased from a mean of 272.57 cultures/month before the intervention to 865.83 cultures/month after the intervention. The percentage of surveillance cultures with positive results increased from 3.13% before to 5.22% after the intervention (P<.001). The mean number of MRSA bacteremia cases per month decreased from 3.6 cases before the intervention to 1.8 cases after the intervention (P< 0.001).
Active surveillance culture is important for identifying hidden reservoirs of MRSA. Contact isolation can prevent new colonization and infection and lead to a significant reduction of morbidity and healthcare costs.
Hospitalized premature infants are particularly vulnerable to morbidity and mortality from pertussis. Effective prevention and investigative and control measures are not well described.
To identify the source of nosocomial pertussis in a 2-month-old premature infant in a neonatal intermediate care nursery (ICN) and to critically review the investigation and outbreak control measures.
An ICN and a neonatal intensive care unit.
We queried healthcare workers (HCWs) and family members about cough illness and contacted potentially exposed patients to determine whether they had symptoms of pertussis. Culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for Bordetella pertussis were performed by the hospital laboratory with specimens collected from symptomatic patients and HCWs. Levels of pertussis toxin immunoglobulin G antibodies were measured in HCWs with cough of at least 14 days' duration at a public health laboratory. Extensive control measures were instituted.
Four ICN HCWs met the clinical case definition for presence of pertussis. Serologic test results were positive for 3 of the HCWs. The primary case patient was a 36-year-old HCW with a cough illness of 3-weeks' duration that was accompanied by paroxysms, whoop, posttussive emesis, and pneumothorax. Among the 4 affected HCWs, the duration of cough illness prior to identification of the infant index patient ranged from 11 to 25 days. Outbreak control measures included isolation of the infant case patient, furlough and treatment of symptomatic HCWs, administration of chemoprophylaxis to contacts, and surveillance for additional cases. Seventy-two infant patients and 72 HCWs were exposed and were given antibiotic prophylaxis. One additional case of pertussis, confirmed by PCR and culture, occurred in a resident physician who declined prophylaxis; she had cared for the index patient but had no contact with symptomatic HCWs.
HCWs or patients may serve as the source of pertussis in nosocomial outbreaks, which can result in substantial morbidity and outlay of resources for control measures. Our review suggested that a diagnosis of pertussis should be an early consideration for HCWs with cough illness. Targeted pertussis immunization of HCWs, employee health policies that provide for testing and furlough of HCWs with prolonged cough, and monitoring of HCWs for compliance with infection control measures could reduce the morbidity and costs associated with pertussis outbreaks. These measures will require evaluation of their effectiveness.
Most hospitals in the United States do not perform active surveillance cultures and, thus, rely on clinical microbiological cultures (CMCs) to identify patients colonized with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). We sought to determine what proportion of patients who are colonized with MRSA at admission are identified by CMCs during hospitalization.
From February 1998 through November 2002, patients found to be colonized with MRSA at admission by use of active surveillance cultures were identified. The proportion of colonized patients who had a CMC that was positive for MRSA, the number of CMCs performed and their type (ie, according to the anatomical site from which specimens were obtained for culture), and the number and type of CMCs that were positive for MRSA were calculated.
Four hundred thirty-seven patients were found to be colonized with MRSA at admission, and 98 of 1,238 CMCs (7.9%; 95% confidence interval, 6.5%-9.6%) performed for 66 of these patients (15%; 95% confidence interval, 11.9%-18.8%) were positive for MRSA. The number of nonisolated days that would have occurred by relying on CMCs to identify MRSA-colonized patients was 3,247 (mean, 7.4 days per patient). Among the anatomical sites from which specimens were obtained for CMC, wounds demonstrated the highest sensitivity (30.2%) for identifying MRSA-colonized patients.
CMCs failed to identify 85% of MRSA-colonized patients, because, in part, CMCs identified only a small proportion of colonized patients. Because many studies have shown a decrease in the transmission of MRSA from colonized patients for whom contact precautions, rather than standard precautions, are used, the findings of this study suggest that failure to identify colonized patients and to use contact precautions may be an important reason for the increasing rate of nosocomial MRSA infection in hospitals in the United States.
To describe an infection control network (the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network [DICON]) and its impact on nosocomial infection rates in community hospitals.
Prospective cohort study of rates of nosocomial infections and exposures of employees to bloodborne pathogens in hospitals during the first 3 years of their affiliation with DICON. Attributable cost and mortality estimates were obtained from published studies.
Twelve community hospitals in North Carolina and Virginia.
During the first 3 years of hospital affiliation with DICON, annual rates of nosocomial bloodstream infections at study hospitals decreased by 23% (P = .009). Annual rates of nosocomial infection and colonization due to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus decreased by 22% (P = .002), and rates of ventilator-associated pneumonia decreased by 40% (P = .001). Rates of exposure of employees to bloodborne pathogens decreased by 18% (P = .003).
The establishment of an infection control network within a group of community hospitals was associated with substantial decreases in nosocomial infection rates. Standard surveillance methods, frequent data analysis and feedback, and interventions based on guidelines and protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were the principal strategies used to achieve these reductions. In addition to lessening the adverse clinical outcomes due to nosocomial infections, these reductions substantially decreased the economic burden of infection: the decline in nosocomial bloodstream infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia alone yielded potential savings of $578,307 to $2,195,954 per year at the study hospitals.