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Management of an outbreak of Enterobacter cloacae in a neonatal unit using simple preventive measures.

Enterobacter cloacae is becoming an increasingly important nosocomial pathogen. Outbreaks of E. cloacae in intensive care units and burns units have been described frequently. In December 1999, a neonate with line sepsis was transferred from a university hospital to the neonatal unit of the Diakonessen Hospital. Blood culture yielded E. cloacae. An outbreak of E. cloacae was occurring in the university hospital at that time. In February 2000, a second neonate in our hospital developed line sepsis caused by E. cloacae. Direct measures taken included cohorting of infected children, disinfection of incubators, thermometers and wards, and screening patients. Of nine neonates, seven were colonized with E. cloacae. Despite these measures, the outbreak continued. Forty-one patients were screened; 15 were colonized. Environmental searches yielded E. cloacae in a sink and on two thermometers. Sixteen isolates were typed by arbitrarily primed PCR using four primers. All the patient isolates and the two isolates from thermometers were identical. The strain isolated from the sink was unrelated. Amplified fragment length polymorphism typing showed that the outbreak clone was identical to that in the university hospital. After the introduction of disposable thermometer covers, E. cloacae colonization slowly decreased.

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