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Most clinical microbiology laboratories have replaced toxin immunoassay (EIA) alone with multistep testing (MST) protocols or nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) alone for the detection of C. difficile.
Study the effect of changing testing strategies on C. difficile detection and strain diversity.
A Veterans’ Affairs hospital.
Initially, toxin EIA testing was replaced by an MST approach utilizing a glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) and toxin EIA followed by tcdB NAAT for discordant results. After 18 months, MST was replaced by a NAAT-only strategy. Available patient stool specimens were cultured for C. difficile. Restriction endonuclease analysis (REA) strain typing and quantitative in vitro toxin testing were performed on recovered isolates.
Before MST (toxin EIA), 79 of 708 specimens (11%) were positive, and after MST (MST-A), 121 of 517 specimens (23%) were positive (P < .0001). Prior to NAAT-only testing (MST-B), 80 of the 490 specimens (16%) were positive by MST, and after NAAT-only testing was implemented, 67 of the 368 specimens (18%) were positive (P = nonsignificant). After replacing toxin EIA testing, REA strain group diversity increased (8, 13, 13, and 10 REA groups in the toxin EIA, MST-A, MST-B, and NAAT-only periods, respectively) and in vitro toxin concentration decreased. The average log10 toxin concentration of the isolates were 2.08, 1.88, 1.20 and 1.55 ng/mL for the same periods, respectively.
MST and NAAT had similar detection rates for C. difficile. Compared to toxin testing alone, they detected increased diversity of C. difficile strains, many of which were low toxin producing.
To characterize nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) associated with case clusters at 3 medical facilities.
Retrospective cohort study using molecular typing of patient and water isolates.
Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs).
Isolation and identification of NTM from clinical and water samples using culture, MALDI-TOF, and gene population sequencing to determine species and genetic relatedness. Clinical data were abstracted from electronic health records.
An identical strain of Mycobacterium conceptionense was isolated from 41 patients at VA Medical Centers (VAMCs A, B, and D), and from VAMC A’s ICU ice machine. Isolates were initially identified as other NTM species within the M. fortuitum clade. Sequencing analyses revealed that they were identical M. conceptionense strains. Overall, 7 patients (17%) met the criteria for pulmonary or nonpulmonary infection with NTM, and 13 of 41 (32%) were treated with effective antimicrobials regardless of infection or colonization status. Separately, a M. mucogenicum patient strain from VAMC A matched a strain isolated from a VAMC B ICU ice machine. VAMC C, in a different state, had a 4-patient cluster with Mycobacterium porcinum. Strains were identical to those isolated from sink-water samples at this facility.
NTM from hospital water systems are found in hospitalized patients, often during workup for other infections, making attribution of NTM infection problematic. Variable NTM identification methods and changing taxonomy create challenges for epidemiologic investigation and linkage to environmental sources.
To test the hypothesis that long-term care facility (LTCF) residents with Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) or asymptomatic carriage of toxigenic strains are an important source of transmission in the LTCF and in the hospital during acute-care admissions.
A 6-month cohort study with identification of transmission events was conducted based on tracking of patient movement combined with restriction endonuclease analysis (REA) and whole-genome sequencing (WGS).
Veterans Affairs hospital and affiliated LTCF.
The study included 29 LTCF residents identified as asymptomatic carriers of toxigenic C. difficile based on every other week perirectal screening and 37 healthcare facility-associated CDI cases (ie, diagnosis >3 days after admission or within 4 weeks of discharge to the community), including 26 hospital-associated and 11 LTCF-associated cases.
Of the 37 CDI cases, 7 (18·9%) were linked to LTCF residents with LTCF-associated CDI or asymptomatic carriage, including 3 of 26 hospital-associated CDI cases (11·5%) and 4 of 11 LTCF-associated cases (36·4%). Of the 7 transmissions linked to LTCF residents, 5 (71·4%) were linked to asymptomatic carriers versus 2 (28·6%) to CDI cases, and all involved transmission of epidemic BI/NAP1/027 strains. No incident hospital-associated CDI cases were linked to other hospital-associated CDI cases.
Our findings suggest that LTCF residents with asymptomatic carriage of C. difficile or CDI contribute to transmission both in the LTCF and in the affiliated hospital during acute-care admissions. Greater emphasis on infection control measures and antimicrobial stewardship in LTCFs is needed, and these efforts should focus on LTCF residents during hospital admissions.
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