Food prepared for intensive care patients was frequently contaminated with Klebsiella species. Sixty-eight per cent of nasogastric feeds were contaminated with up to 10(4) klebsiellae per ml. Hospital kitchens were the source of contamination. Three patients ingested klebsiellae and subsequently excreted the same serotype in their faeces. Over a four-week period there was a correlation between kitchen, food, faecal, and clinical serotypes of klebsiellae. Serotypes ingested by intensive care patients occurred more frequently in clinical isolates from intensive care patients than from other hospital patients. Patients often acquired a food strain that had been ingested by another patient on the same ward.
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