Infection control response to an outbreak of OXA-23 carbapenemase-producing carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii in a skilled nursing facility in Utah

Published:November 17, 2020DOI:


      • This investigation identified gaps in surveillance, infection control and communication, requiring a multi-faceted response.
      • Prioritization of recommendations is required in resource-restrained, high-acuity facilities, like skilled nursing facilities with ventilator units.
      • Patient transfers between facilities indicate single facility prevention and containment activities are insufficient, and necessitates a regional approach.


      Antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter species are a growing public health threat, yet are not nationally notifiable, and most states do not mandate reporting. Additionally, there are no standardized methods to detect Acinetobacter species colonization.


      An outbreak of carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (CRAB) was identified at a Utah ventilator unit in a skilled nursing facility. An investigation was conducted to identify transmission modes in order to control spread of CRAB. Culture-based methods were used to identify patient colonization and environmental contamination in the facility.


      Of the 47 patients screened, OXA-23-producing CRAB were detected in 10 patients (21%), with 7 patients (15%) having been transferred from out-of-state facilities. Of patients who screened positive, 60% did not exhibit any signs or symptoms of active infection by chart review. A total of 38 environmental samples were collected and CRAB was recovered from 37% of those samples. Whole genome sequencing analyses of patient and environmental isolates suggested repeated CRAB introduction into the facility and highlighted the role of shared equipment in transmission.


      The investigation demonstrated this ventilated skilled nursing facility was an important reservoir for CRAB in the community and highlights the need for improved surveillance, strengthened infection control and inter-facility communication within and across states.

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