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To determine the continued need for active surveillance to prevent extended-spectrum β-lactamase–producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-E) transmission in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
This retrospective observational study included patients with ESBL-E colonization or infection identified during their NICU stay at our institution between 1999 and March 2018. Active surveillance was conducted between 1999 and March 2017 by testing rectal swab specimens collected upon admission and weekly thereafter. The overall incidence rates, of ESBL-E colonization or infection (including hospital acquired) before and after active surveillance were calculated. The cost associated with active surveillance was then estimated.
Overall, 171 NICU patients were found to have ESBL-E colonization or infection, and 150 of those patients (87.7%) were detected by active surveillance. The overall incidence rate was 1.4 per 100 patient admissions. The hospital-acquired incidence rate was 0.41 per 1,000 patient days, and this rate had decreased since 2002, with an average of 6 cases detected annually. A significant decrease was observed in 2009 when the unit moved to a new single-bed unit featuring private rooms. Active surveillance was discontinued with no increase in the number of infections. Of the 150 ESBL-E colonized patients, 14 (9.3%) subsequently developed an infection. Active surveillance resulted in a total of 50,950 specimen collections and a cost of $127,187 for processing, an average of $848 to detect 1 ESBL-E colonized patient.
ESBL-E transmission and infection in our NICU remains uncommon. Active surveillance may have contributed to the decline of ESBL-E transmission when used in conjunction with contact precautions and private rooms, but its relatively high cost could be prohibitive.
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