An outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a neonatal intensive care unit

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2003 May;24(5):317-21. doi: 10.1086/502217.


Objective: To describe the epidemiologic and molecular investigations that successfully contained an outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Design: Isolates of MRSA were typed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and S. aureus protein A (spa).

Setting: A level III-IV, 45-bed NICU located in a children's hospital within a medical center.

Patients: Incident cases had MRSA isolated from clinical cultures (eg, blood) or surveillance cultures (ie, anterior nares).

Interventions: Infected and colonized infants were placed on contact precautions, cohorted, and treated with mupirocin. Surveillance cultures were performed for healthcare workers (HCWs). Colonized HCWs were treated with topical mupirocin and hexachlorophene showers.

Results: From January to March 2001, the outbreak strain of MRSA, PFGE clone B, was harbored by 13 infants. Three (1.3%) of 235 HCWs were colonized with MRSA. Two HCWs, who rotated between the adult and the pediatric facility, harbored clone C. One HCW, who exclusively worked in the children's hospital, was colonized with clone B. From January 1999 to November 2000, 22 patients hospitalized in the adult facility were infected or colonized with clone B. Spa typing and PFGE yielded concordant results. PFGE clone B was identified as spa type 16, associated with outbreaks in Brazil and Hungary.

Conclusions: A possible route of MRSA transmission was elucidated by molecular typing. MRSA appears to have been transferred from our adult facility to our pediatric facility by a rotating HCW. Spa typing allowed comparison of our institution's MRSA strains with previously characterized outbreak clones.

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Methicillin Resistance*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / epidemiology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / genetics
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*