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Characterizing the bioburden of ESBL-producing organisms in a neonatal unit using chromogenic culture media: a feasible and efficient environmental sampling method.

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2022 01 24

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<p><strong>INTRODUCTION: </strong>Infections due to extended spectrum beta-lactamase producing organisms (ESBL) have emerged as the leading cause of sepsis among hospitalized neonates in Botswana and much of sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. Yet, ESBL reservoirs and transmission dynamics within the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) environment are not well-understood. This study aimed to assess the efficiency and feasibility of a chromogenic-culture-media-based environmental sampling approach to characterize the ESBL bioburden within a NICU.</p>

<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>A series of four point-prevalence surveys were conducted at a 36-bed NICU at a public tertiary referral hospital in Botswana from January-June 2021. Samples were collected on 4 occasions under semi-sterile technique using 1) flocked swabs &amp; templates (flat surfaces); 2) sterile syringe &amp; tubing (water aspiration); and 3) structured swabbing techniques (hands &amp; equipment). Swabs were transported in physiological saline-containing tubes, vortexed, and 10 µL was inoculated onto chromogenic-agar that was selective and differential for ESBL (CHROMagar™ ESBL, Paris, France), and streaking plates to isolate individual colonies. Bacterial colonies were quantified and phenotypically characterized using biochemical identification tests.</p>

<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>In total, 567 samples were collected, 248 (44%) of which grew ESBL. Dense and consistent ESBL contamination was detected in and around sinks and certain high-touch surfaces, while transient contamination was demonstrated on medical equipment, caregivers/healthcare worker hands, insects, and feeding stations (including formula powder). Results were available within 24-72&nbsp;h of collection. To collect, plate, and analyse 50 samples, we estimated a total expenditure of $269.40 USD for materials and 13.5 cumulative work hours among all personnel.</p>

<p><strong>CONCLUSIONS: </strong>Using basic environmental sampling and laboratory techniques aided by chromogenic culture media, we identified ESBL reservoirs (sinks) and plausible transmission vehicles (medical equipment, infant formula, hands of caregivers/healthcare workers, &amp; insects) in this NICU environment. This strategy was a simple and cost-efficient method to assess ESBL bioburden and may be feasible for use in other settings to support ongoing infection control assessments and outbreak investigations.</p>



Alternate Title

Antimicrob Resist Infect Control




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