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In July 1999, a rare strain of multidrug-resistant Salmonella enterica serovar Senftenberg was isolated from the sputum of a trauma patient. Over a 6-year period (1999-2005) in northeast Florida, this Salmonella serovar spread to 66 other patients in 16 different healthcare facilities as a result of frequent transfers of patients among institutions. To our knowledge, this is the first outbreak of healthcare-associated infection and colonization with a fluoroquinolone-resistant strain of S. Senftenberg in the United States.
To investigate an outbreak of infection and colonization with an unusual strain of S. Senftenberg and assist with infection control measures.
A case series, outbreak investigation, and microbiological study of all samples positive for S. Senftenberg on culture.
Cases of S. Senftenberg infection and colonization occurred in hospitals and long-term care facilities in 2 counties in northeast Florida.
The affected patients were mostly elderly persons with multiple medical conditions. They were frequently transferred between healthcare facilities. This Salmonella serovar was capable of long-term colonization of chronically ill patients. All S. Senftenberg isolates tested shared a similar pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern.
A prolonged outbreak of infection and colonization with multidrug-resistant S. Senftenberg was identified in several healthcare facilities throughout the Jacksonville, Florida, area and became established when infection control measures failed. The bacterial agent was capable of long-term colonization in chronically ill patients. Because the dispersal pattern of this strain suggested a breakdown of infection control practices, a multipronged intervention approach was undertaken that included intense education of personnel in the different institutions, interinstitutional cooperation, and transfer paperwork notification.
Toxic anterior segment syndrome (TASS), a complication of cataract surgery, is a sterile inflammation of the anterior chamber of the eye. An outbreak of TASS was recognized at an outpatient surgical center and its affiliated hospital in December 2002.
Medical records of patients who underwent cataract surgery during the outbreak were reviewed, and surgical team members who participated in the operations were interviewed. Potential causes of TASS were identified and eliminated. Feedwater from autoclave steam generators and steam condensates were analyzed by use of spectroscopy and ion chromatography.
During the outbreak, 8 (38%) of 21 cataract operations were complicated by TASS, compared with 2 (0.07%) of 2,713 operations performed from January 1996 through November 2002. Results of an initial investigation suggested that cataract surgical equipment may have been contaminated by suboptimal equipment reprocessing or as a result of personnel changes. The frequency of TASS decreased (1 of 44 cataract operations) after reassignment of personnel and revision of equipment reprocessing procedures. Further investigation identified the presence of impurities (eg, sulfates, copper, zinc, nickel, and silica) in autoclave steam moisture, which was attributed to improper maintenance of the autoclave steam generator in the outpatient surgical center. When impurities in autoclave steam moisture were eliminated, no cases of TASS were observed after more than 1,000 cataract operations.
Suboptimal reprocessing of cataract surgical equipment may evolve over time in busy, multidisciplinary surgical centers. Clinically significant contamination of surgical equipment may result from inappropriate maintenance of steam sterilization systems. Standardization of protocols for reprocessing of cataract surgical equipment may prevent outbreaks of TASS and may be of assistance during outbreak investigations.
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