Ongoing epidemic of blaVIM-1-positive Klebsiella pneumoniae in Athens, Greece: a prospective survey

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2008 Jan;61(1):59-63. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkm443. Epub 2007 Nov 13.


Objectives: To determine the current frequency and study the characteristics of VIM-1-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates from bloodstream infections in Greek hospitals.

Methods: All blood isolates of K. pneumoniae were prospectively collected during 2004-06 in three teaching hospitals located in Athens. MICs of antibiotics were determined by the Etest. Extended-spectrum- (ESBL) and metallo-beta-lactamase (MBL) production was examined by clavulanate- and EDTA-based techniques, respectively. Isolates were typed by PFGE of XbaI-digested genomic DNA. Detection of bla(VIM-1) and mapping of the VIM-1-encoding integrons were performed by PCR and sequencing. Beta-lactamase activities were analysed by IEF and imipenem hydrolysis was assessed by spectrophotometry. VIM-1-encoding plasmids were transferred to Escherichia coli by conjugation and transformation and characterized by Inc/rep typing and RFLP.

Results: Sixty-seven (37.6%) of 178 K. pneumoniae blood isolates were bla(VIM-1)-positive (VPKP); 77.8% of these were from ICUs. All VPKP isolates were multidrug-resistant. The MICs of carbapenems for VPKP varied from the susceptible range to high-level resistance overlapping with those of MBL-negative isolates. The EDTA-imipenem synergy methods had reduced sensitivity in detecting VPKP isolates when the MICs were in the susceptible range. ESBL production was common among VPKP isolates (n = 45, 67.2%) as indicated by resistance to aztreonam and confirmed by a clavulanate-based double-disc synergy test. The responsible ESBL was always an SHV-5-type enzyme as indicated by IEF. PFGE identified eight clusters (A-H) of VPKP isolates with related (>80%) patterns, as well as four unique types. Both inter-hospital spread of several clones and genotypic similarities among susceptible, ESBL-positive and VPKP isolates were also observed. Location of bla(VIM-1) and expression of VIM-1 were studied in 12 isolates representing the eight PFGE clusters. In all isolates, bla(VIM-1) was part of a class 1 integron that also carried aacA4, dhfrI, aadA and sulI. In eight isolates (clusters C, D, G and H), the bla(VIM-1) integron was located in transferable IncN plasmids. A cluster F isolate carried a VIM-1-encoding, self-transferable plasmid that was not typeable by Inc/rep typing. VIM-1-encodingreplicons were not identified in three isolates (PFGE clusters A, B and E). VPKP isolates exhibited differences in imipenem-hydrolysing activities which, however, were not correlated with the respective carbapenem MICs.

Conclusions: A multiclonal epidemic of bla(VIM-1)-carrying K. pneumoniae is under way in the majorhospitals in Greece. Microorganisms producing both VIM-1 and SHV-5 constitute the prevalent multidrug-resistant population of K. pneumoniae in this setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carbapenems / pharmacology
  • Carbapenems / therapeutic use*
  • Cross Infection / enzymology
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / genetics
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Klebsiella Infections / drug therapy
  • Klebsiella Infections / epidemiology*
  • Klebsiella Infections / microbiology
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae / drug effects
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae / enzymology
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae / isolation & purification*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • beta-Lactamases / biosynthesis
  • beta-Lactamases / genetics


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Carbapenems
  • VIM-1 metallo-beta-lactamase
  • beta-Lactamases