Escherichia coli (E. coli) comprise part of the normal vaginal microflora. Transfer from mother to neonate can occur during delivery resulting, sometimes, in neonatal bacterial disease. Here, we aim to report the first outbreak of CTX-M ESBL-producing E. coli with evidence of mother-to-neonate transmission in an Irish neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) followed by patient-to-patient transmission. Investigation including molecular typing was conducted. Infection was defined by clinical and laboratory criteria and requirement for antimicrobial therapy with or without positive blood cultures. Colonisation was determined by isolation without relevant symptoms or indicators of infection. Index case was an 8-day-old baby born at 34 weeks gestation who developed ESBL-producing E. coli infections at multiple body sites. Screening confirmed their mother as colonised with ESBL-producing E. coli. Five other neonates, in the NICU simultaneously with the index case, also tested positive. Of these, four were colonised while one neonate developed sepsis, requiring antimicrobial therapy. The second infected neonate’s mother was also colonised by ESBL-producing E. coli. Isolates from all eight positive patients (6 neonates, 2 mothers) were compared using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Two distinct ESBL-producing strains were implicated, with evidence of transmission between mothers and neonates for both strains. All isolates were confirmed as CTX-M ESBL-producers. There were no deaths associated with the outbreak. Resources were directed towards control interventions focused on hand hygiene and antimicrobial stewardship, which ultimately proved successful. Since this incident, all neonates admitted to the NICU have been screened for ESBL-producers and expectant mothers are screened at their first antenatal appointment. To date, there have been no further outbreaks.
O’Connor, C., Philip, R. K., Kelleher, J., Powell, J., O’Gorman, A., Slevin, B., … Dunne, C. P. (2017). The first occurrence of a CTX-M ESBL-producing Escherichia coli outbreak mediated by mother to neonate transmission in an Irish neonatal intensive care unit. BMC Infectious Diseases, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12879-016-2142-6