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In our center, previous infection prevention and control (IPC) resources were concentrated on multidrug-resistant organisms other than CRAB because the rate of CRAB was stable with no evidence of outbreaks. Triggered by an increase in the baseline rate of CRAB isolated in clinical cultures, we investigated horizontal transmission of CRAB to guide targeted IPC actions.
We prospectively collected clinical data of patients with positive CRAB cultures. We identified genetic relatedness of CRAB isolates using whole-genome sequencing. Findings were regularly presented to the IPC committee, and follow-up actions were documented.
During the study period, 66 CRAB isolates were available for WGS. Including 12 clinical isolates and 10 environmental isolates from a previous study, a total of 88 samples were subjected to WGS, of which 83 were successfully sequenced and included in the phylogenetic analysis. We identified 5 clusters involving 44 patients. Genomic transmissions were explained by spatiotemporal overlap in 12 patients and by spatial overlap only in 12 patients. The focus of transmission was deduced to be the intensive care units. One cluster was related to a retrospective environmental isolate, suggesting the environment as a possible route of transmission. Discussion of these findings at multidisciplinary IPC meetings led to implementation of measures focusing on environmental hygiene, including hydrogen peroxide vapor disinfection in addition to terminal cleaning for rooms occupied by CRAB patients.
We showed that WGS could be utilized as a “tool of persuasion” by demonstrating the presence of ongoing transmission of CRAB in an endemic setting, and by identifying actionable routes of transmission for directed IPC interventions.
Understanding the extent of aerosol-based transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is important for tailoring interventions for control of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Multiple studies have reported the detection of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid in air samples, but only one study has successfully recovered viable virus, although it is limited by its small sample size.
We aimed to determine the extent of shedding of viable SARS-CoV-2 in respiratory aerosols from COVID-19 patients.
In this observational air sampling study, air samples from airborne-infection isolation rooms (AIIRs) and a community isolation facility (CIF) housing COVID-19 patients were collected using a water vapor condensation method into liquid collection media. Samples were tested for presence of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), and qRT-PCR-positive samples were tested for viability using viral culture.
Samples from 6 (50%) of the 12 sampling cycles in hospital rooms were positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA, including aerosols ranging from <1 µm to >4 µm in diameter. Of 9 samples from the CIF, 1 was positive via qRT-PCR. Viral RNA concentrations ranged from 179 to 2,738 ORF1ab gene copies per cubic meter of air. Virus cultures were negative after 4 blind passages.
Although SARS-CoV-2 is readily captured in aerosols, virus culture remains challenging despite optimized sampling methodologies to preserve virus viability. Further studies on aerosol-based transmission and control of SARS-CoV-2 are needed.
The risk of environmental contamination by severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the intensive care unit (ICU) is unclear. We evaluated the extent of environmental contamination in the ICU and correlated this with patient and disease factors, including the impact of different ventilatory modalities.
In this observational study, surface environmental samples collected from ICU patient rooms and common areas were tested for SARS-CoV-2 by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Select samples from the common area were tested by cell culture. Clinical data were collected and correlated to the presence of environmental contamination. Results were compared to historical data from a previous study in general wards.
In total, 200 samples from 20 patient rooms and 75 samples from common areas and the staff pantry were tested. The results showed that 14 rooms had at least 1 site contaminated, with an overall contamination rate of 14% (28 of 200 samples). Environmental contamination was not associated with day of illness, ventilatory mode, aerosol-generating procedures, or viral load. The frequency of environmental contamination was lower in the ICU than in general ward rooms. Eight samples from the common area were positive, though all were negative on cell culture.
Environmental contamination in the ICU was lower than in the general wards. The use of mechanical ventilation or high-flow nasal oxygen was not associated with greater surface contamination, supporting their use and safety from an infection control perspective. Transmission risk via environmental surfaces in the ICUs is likely to be low. Nonetheless, infection control practices should be strictly reinforced, and transmission risk via droplet or airborne spread remains.