Infections due to coagulase-negative Staphylococcus (CNS) are an ever-increasing nosocomial problem, particularly in the pediatric population. The authors describe a cluster of three primary bloodstream infections due to CNS in a newborn intensive care unit that occurred between November 23 and December 2, 1992. Two children died as a direct consequence of the bacteremia; at autopsy, one had a large bacteria-containing thrombus extending from the insertion site of a central catheter to the superior vena cava. The children were placed in isolation, and the nursing and medical staff were given topical nasal mupirocin. Plasmid analysis performed later disclosed three different blood isolates that also were different from any of the staff's nasal isolates.
The authors concluded that molecular methods such as plasmid analysis are important tools in identifying true outbreaks and can prevent needless interventions, such as those during this cluster.