n South African Medical Journal - Clinical alert - emergence of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus at a tertiary paediatric hospital in South Africa : in practice

Volume 106, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



During 2013, the haematology/oncology unit at a tertiary level paediatric hospital in South Africa experienced the emergence of infection with vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE).

To describe the clinical and molecular aspects of the cases identified.
VRE isolates identified from blood culture specimens processed at the National Health Laboratory Service were screened for the presence of the vancomycin resistance genes A, B and C1, 2 and 3. Further characterisation of these isolates was carried out using pulsedfield gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Clinical records of infected patients were reviewed to identify possible risk factors, while surveillance with rectal swabs was performed to identify VRE-colonised patients.
Four patients with haematological malignancies were identified with VRE bloodstream infections. Patients were immuno-compromisedat the time of the bloodstream infection (BSI), with receipt of vancomycin prior to VRE-BSI, and infections were treated with linezolid. Colonisation with VRE was found in 8 of 55 patients screened. Infected and colonised patients were isolated in the unit during their admission and strict contact precaution infection control practices were instituted. The A gene was identified in all of the isolates but one. PFGE and MLST results showed a degree of genetic relatedness between certain isolates obtained from rectal swab and blood culture samples, suggesting possible patient-to-patient transmission or persistence of the isolates in the unit.
Strict infection control practices are necessary to prevent infection and transmission of resistant organisms among vulnerable patients.

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