Streptococcus faecium outbreak in a neonatal intensive care unit.


An outbreak of bacteremia and meningitis in a neonatal intensive care unit is described. Seven cases occurred in premature infants with severe underlying diseases. An epidemiological investigation failed to document the reservoir of the epidemic strain but suggested that its transmission among the infants was via the hands of hospital personnel. All patients had nasogastric tubes and multiple intravascular devices, and the portal of entry may have been either the gastrointestinal tract or the sites of the intravascular devices. Conventional biotyping of isolates failed to differentiate between isolates from infected patients and isolates recovered from prevalence surveys and from the environment. However, rapid identification systems (API-20S [Analytab Products, Plainview, N.Y.] and the AutoMicrobic system [Vitek Systems, Inc., Hazelwood, Mo.]) were able to distinguish isolates recovered from infected patients and hands of hospital personnel from isolates recovered during prevalence and environmental surveys and 29 isolates from widespread geographical areas. This is the first known report of a nosocomial neonatal outbreak of bacteremia and meningitis due to Streptococcus faecium; it underscores the importance of identifying streptococci to species level.

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