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Epidemiological study of klebsiella infection in the special care baby unit of a London hospital
  1. EVE Riser,
  2. Paul Noone,
  3. Frances M Howard
  1. Departments of Medical Microbiology and Paediatrics, Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, Hampstead, London NW3 2QG, UK


    Of the babies admitted to the Special Care Baby Unit of the Royal Free Hospital over 20 months, 10·2% were infected or colonised by klebsiella. The fluorescent antibody technique was used to identify epidemics caused by three strains: capsular type 8 K. aerogenes, type 68 K. oxytoca, or type 13 K. aerogenes, each of which was predominant at a different time, exhibited a difference in virulence, and showed a predilection for different sites of infection. Intestinal colonisation was frequently followed by the presence of sepsis in other sites by the same capsular type. Antibiotic administration led to a higher incidence of klebsiella infection, while the widespread use of compounds containing hexachlorophane could have contributed to skin colonisation and infection by klebsiella. An environmental survey indicated that 1% Hycolin failed to disinfect the incubators, that the babies were the reservoirs of the organisms, and that transmission was due to inadequate hand-washing of nurses and mothers. The mothers were found to have been uninformed of hygienic techniques. They were observed in various practices which could have contributed to the spread of the organism, including contaminating communal areas and handling babies other than their own. It has been recommended that the mothers of premature infants be instructed in the hygienic measures required in dealing with this susceptible population and that the nursing and medical staff be more strict in their own observance of these procedures.

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