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Health care-associated infection outbreak investigations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1946-2005


Since 1946, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) personnel have investigated outbreaks of infections and adverse events associated with delivery of health care. CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officers have led onsite investigations of these outbreaks by systematically applying epidemiology, statistics, and laboratory science. During 1946-2005, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officers conducted 531 outbreak investigations in facilities across the United States and abroad. Initially, the majority of outbreaks involved gastrointestinal tract infections; however, in later years, bloodstream, respiratory tract, and surgical wound infections predominated. Among pathogens implicated in CDC outbreak investigations, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus species, Enterobacteriaceae, nonfermentative Gram-negative bacteria, or yeasts predominated, but unusual organisms (e.g., the atypical mycobacteria) were often included. Outbreak types varied and often were linked to transfer of colonized patients or health care personnel between facilities (multihospital outbreaks), national distribution of contaminated products, use of invasive medical devices, or variances in practices and procedures in health care environments (e.g., intensive care units, water reservoirs, or hemodialysis units). Through partnerships with health care facilities and local and state health departments, outbreaks were terminated and lives saved. Data from investigations invariably contributed to CDC-generated guidelines for prevention and control of health care-associated infections.

Archibald LK, Jarvis WR

Am. J. Epidemiol. 2011 Dec;174(11 Suppl):S47-64

PMID: 22135394