Multiple-antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumanii, including meropenem resistance, was first isolated from a patient in the general intensive care unit of a tertiary-referral university teaching hospital in Birmingham in December 1998. Similar strains were subsequently isolated from 12 other patients, including those on another intensive care unit within the hospital. The outbreak followed an increase in the use of meropenem in both the units. Environmental screening revealed the presence of the multiple-resistant Acinetobacter species on fomite surfaces in the intensive care unit and bed linen. The major source appeared to be the curtains surrounding patients' beds. Typing by pulsed field gel electrophoresis demonstrated that the patients' isolates and those from the environment were indistinguishable. Rigorous infection control measures including increased frequency of cleaning of the environment with hypochlorite (1000 ppm) and twice-weekly changing of curtains were implemented, along with restriction of meropenem use in the units. Isolation of the multiple-resistant Acinetobacter spp. subsequently diminished and it was not detected over a follow-up period of 18 months. To our knowledge, this is the first reported outbreak of carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter spp. from the UK. This outbreak also highlights environmental sources, particularly dry fabrics such as curtains, as an important reservoir for dissemination of acinetobacters.
- Intensive care units
- Meropenem resistance