The colonization and resistance dynamics of aerobic gram-negative bacteria in the intestinal and oropharyngeal microfloras of patients admitted to intensive care units (ICU) and general wards were investigated during and after hospitalization. A total of 3,316 specimens were obtained from patients upon admission, once weekly during hospitalization, at discharge from the ICU, at discharge from the hospital, and 1 and 3 months after discharge from the hospital. Five colonies per specimen were selected for identification and susceptibility testing. In both patient populations, the gram-negative colonization rates in oropharyngeal specimens increased during hospitalization and did not decrease in the 3 months after discharge. In rectal specimens, colonization rates decreased during hospitalization and increased after discharge. There was a change in species distribution among the dominant microfloras during hospitalization. Klebsiella spp., Enterobacter spp., Serratia marcescens, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were isolated more often, whereas the frequency of Escherichia coli declined. The percentage of ICU patients colonized with ampicillin- and/or cephalothin-resistant fecal E. coli was significantly increased at discharge from the hospital and did not change in the 3 months after discharge. The emergence of multidrug resistance was observed for E. coli during patient stays in the ICU. Resistance frequencies in E. coli significantly increased with the length of stay in the ICU. For the general ward population, no significant changes in resistance frequencies were found during hospitalization. From a population perspective, the risk of dissemination of resistant gram-negative bacteria into the community through hospitalized patients appears to be low for general ward patients but is noticeably higher among ICU patients.

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Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Filius, M., Gyssens, I., Kershof, I., Roovers, P., Ott, A., Vulto, A., … Endtz, H. (2005). Colonization and resistance dynamics of gram-negative bacteria in patients during and after hospitalization. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 49(7), 2879–2886. doi:10.1128/AAC.49.7.2879-2886.2005