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Infection Control

Unlikely source of bacteria outbreak

July 25, 2012
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TORONTO — Although they were installed to promote better handwashing practices in intensive care and patient rooms, state-of-the-art sinks were actually doing more harm than good, according to the Global Edmonton.

Sinks installed in Toronto''s Mount Sinai Hospital became reservoirs for a drug-resistant bug that infected at least 66 patients from the fall of 2006 to the spring of 2011, the article stated.

According to the article, the outbreak involved Klebsiella oxytoca, a bacterium that normally lives in the human gut and typically causes urinary tract infections, but can also trigger bacteremia, or an infection in the blood.

Despite taking appropriate measures when carriers of the bug were located, ICU patients were becoming infected even though there were no Klebsiella oxytoca carriers in the ICU; it became clear there had to be a non-human source, the article noted.

When infection control told cleaners to scrub the sinks three times a day, transmission slowed, but that schedule is hard to maintain and when it slipped, the bacteria would start to spread again, the article added.

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