Bacterial Invasive infections in a neonatal intensive care unit: a 13 years microbiological report from a tertiary referral centre


NICU, invasive infections, colonization, Staphylococcus aureus


Introduction: To evaluate the aetiology of neonatal invasive diseases (positive cultures from blood or cerebrospinal fluid) due to bacteria other than coagulase-negative staphylococci in a large third-level centre and compare with results of surveillance cultures.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of microbiological data of children admitted in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of a large third-level centre from 2005 to 2018.

Results: 230 bacterial strains, 223 from blood and 7 from CSF, were detected as cause of invasive infections, while 152 were detected in surveillance cultures.

Methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) was the most frequently isolated pathogen both in invasive infections (18%) and colonizations (23%) followed by Escherichia coli (16% on invasive disease and 20% of colonizations). Other common bacteria include Enterococcus faecalis and Streptococcus agalactiae for invasive disease and Meticillin-resistant Stapylococcus aureus (MRSA) with regard to colonization. Disease was due to a pathogen detected in surveillance cultures flora in 33%. In more than 50% of invasive diseases the identified pathogen was not present in surveillance cultures.

Conclusion: The high percentage of invasive infections due to bacteria not previously identified in surveillance cultures raises doubts about the efficiency of this procedure and highlights the need to search for alternative infection sources. This finding and the high prevalence of invasive infections due to nosocomial pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus could be the result of horizontal transmission between patients through the hands of health care professionals, emphasizing once again the importance of applying stringent hand hygiene procedures and isolation standards.


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