An outbreak of Serratia marcescens on the neonatal unit: a tale of two clones

M.D. David, T.M.A. Welter, Peter A. Lambert, A.P. Fraise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Serratia spp. are an important cause of hospital-acquired infections and outbreaks in high-risk settings. Twenty-one patients were infected or colonized over a nine-month period during 2001-2002 on a neonatal unit. Twenty-two isolates collected were examined for antibiotic susceptibility, β-lactamase production and genotype. Random-amplified polymorphic DNA polymerase chain reaction and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis revealed that two clones were present. The first clone caused invasive clinical infection in four babies, and was subsequently replaced by a non-invasive clone that affected 14 babies. Phenotypically, the two strains also differed in their prodigiosin production; the first strain was non-pigmented whereas the second strain displayed pink-red pigmentation. Clinical features suggested a difference in their pathogenicity. No environmental source was found. The outbreak terminated following enhanced compliance with infection control measures and a change of antibiotic policy. Although S. marcescens continued to be isolated occasionally for another five months of follow-up, these were sporadic isolates with distinct molecular typing patterns. © 2005 The Hospital Infection Society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2006
Event11th Annual Conference of the Federation of Infection Societies - Cardiff, United Kingdom
Duration: 23 Nov 200425 Nov 2004

Bibliographical note

This work was presented, in part, in poster format at the 11th Annual Conference of the Federation of Infection Societies, Cardiff, 23-25 November 2004.


  • infection control
  • neonatal
  • outbreak
  • serratia marcescens


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