Recovery of multidrug-resistant (MDR) Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae from a cluster of patients in the medical intensive care unit (MICU) prompted an epidemiologic investigation for a common exposure.
Clinical and microbiologic data from MICU patients were retrospectively reviewed, MICU bronchoscopes underwent culturing and borescopy, and bronchoscope reprocessing procedures were reviewed. Bronchoscope and clinical MDR isolates epidemiologically linked to the cluster underwent molecular typing using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) followed by whole-genome sequencing.
Of the 33 case patients, 23 (70%) were exposed to a common bronchoscope (B1). Both MDR P. aeruginosa and K. pneumonia were recovered from the bronchoscope’s lumen, and borescopy revealed a luminal defect. Molecular testing demonstrated genetic relatedness among case patient and B1 isolates, providing strong evidence for horizontal bacterial transmission. MDR organism (MDRO) recovery in 19 patients was ultimately linked to B1 exposure, and 10 of 19 patients were classified as belonging to an MDRO pseudo-outbreak.
Surveillance of bronchoscope-derived clinical culture data was important for early detection of this outbreak, and whole-genome sequencing was important for the confirmation of findings. Visualization of bronchoscope lumens to confirm integrity should be a critical component of device reprocessing.
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