Hospital sink traps may harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria, study finds

Sink traps may pose as hidden reservoirs for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to a study published Oct. 4 in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

For the study, researchers conducted a root-cause analysis to determine the source of a Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae outbreak at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel.

The hospital detected 32 cases of CPE among patients in the intensive care unit between January 2016 and May 2017, which caused three deaths. Researchers discovered the same bacteria strain was responsible for 30 cases.

The hospital's infection control team worked with ICU staff to systemically trace the CPE contamination to two sink outlets and 16 sink traps in the ICU.

"In addition to routine strict infection control measures, measures taken to contain the outbreak included various sink decontamination efforts, which eliminated the bacteria from the sink drains only temporarily, and educational intervention that engaged the ICU team and lead [sic] to high adherence to 'sink-contamination prevention guidelines,'" the authors wrote.

After enacting these interventions, the hospital did not identify additional CPE cases for 12 months.

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