Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is a major health problem worldwide, especially in intensive care units (ICUs). This study aimed to detect the prevalence of A. baumannii colonization of the gastrointestinal tract of patients admitted to the ICU in two hospitals in Saudi Arabia. In addition, it aimed to characterize the molecular mechanisms of carbapenem resistance in these isolates. From January to June 2014, 565 rectal swab specimens were screened for Acinetobacer strains and carbapenem resistance using CHROMagar Acinetobacter and CHROMagar KPC agar plates, respectively. Organism identification and susceptibility were detected using the Vitek 2 system. A total of 47 Acinetobacter spp. were detected, and 35 were resistant to carbapenem, making the prevalence of Acinetobacter spp. 8.3% (47/565) and carbapenem resistance (6.2%, 35/565). The 47 strains showed remarkable clonal diversity as revealed by PFGE. Using PCR, OXA-51, a chromosomal marker for A. baumannii, was detected in 46 strains. OXA-23 β-lactamase was detected in all 35 carbapenem-resistant A. baumannii. No IMP, VIM, SPM, SIM, GIM, KPC or NDM β-lactamases were detected in these isolates. Thus, OXA-23 was the main mechanism of carbapenem resistance in these isolates. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to detect the prevalence of Acinetobacter colonization in the digestive tract of ICU patients in Saudi Arabia. This study revealed the importance of having well-established protocols for early identification of these multidrug-resistant organisms, optimizing infection-control strategies and having active surveillance studies to reduce morbidity, mortality and cost.
© 2015 The Authors.