The largest reported outbreak of infections due to Streptococcus pyogenes, M-type 18, in recent years is described. Ninety persons at institutions for mentally retarded (73% residents) had infections due to the epidemic strain. Pharyngitis and scarlatina were the most common infections. Six patients died, five having a streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. During the outbreak an intensive surveillance was carried out together with improved infection control measures and prompt culturing of residents and employees before antimicrobial treatment. The primary outbreak was confined but a secondary outbreak could not be prevented. This was probably due to difficulties in implementing proper isolation precautions in this setting.
A survey was performed in Denmark and Greenland in order to determine whether the current recommendation of ampicillin (400 mg/kg/day) for initial treatment of purulent meningitis is appropriate. Data obtained 1981-1987 in an ongoing nationwide programme for surveillance of ampicillin-resistant Haemophilus species was analysed, and patient records of 21 cases of meningitis caused by ampicillin-resistant Haemophilus influenzae strains (17 in Denmark, 4 in Greenland) reported in the period 1981-1987 were reviewed. In Denmark the overall rate of ampicillin-resistant Haemophilus influenzae was estimated to be approximately 2% for the study period, and the average rate of resistant isolates from spinal fluid was 5.2% (range 0-12.3%). The incidence of meningitis caused by ampicillin-resistant Haemophilus influenzae strains remained low in the Danish population (around 0.05/100,000/year) except for a peak in 1985. The overall mortality rate of Haemophilus influenzae meningitis for the study period was 2.4%, which was the same as before 1980. In Greenland the actual number of cases of meningitis caused by ampicillin-resistant Haemophilus influenzae was small, but the incidence was at least 40 to 80 times higher than in Denmark with a high mortality rate (50%). These observations prompted revision of the antibiotic regimen in Greenland, whereas the regimen was considered appropriate in Denmark.
A prospective clinical-bacteriological study of 102 consecutive cases of confirmed bacteremia at a Copenhagen City general hospital was carried out during 5 months of 1973 with special concern given to focus of infection and acquisition of microorganisms. Valid positive cultures were obtained from 7.2 patients per 1000 admissions. 50 of the 102 bacteremias were by all probability acquired in the hospital, mainly due to transurethral manipulations or intravenous lines. Pneumonia and hepatobiliary infections accounted for most of the non-hospital acquired bacteremias. 26/102 patients died in relation to the bacteremia. Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus caused more than half of the infections. Bacteremia caused by proteus, klebsiella, enterobacter species of staphylococci was in most cases nosocomial and carried the highest mortality, i.e. 40%, verus 15% when other organisms were responsible. It is concluded that nosocomial bacteremia is a frequent and life-endangering complication which is often preceded by certain diagnostic or therapeutic procedures, not invariably linked to severe underlying diseases. Consequently, attempts to reduce bacteremic episodes should include surveillance of ecological factors and certain hospital procedures.
A low-cost personal computer program to monitor surgical wound infections was developed in parallel to the Danish national guidelines for recording postoperative wound infections. Internationally accepted definitions were used. The program offers three fixed-data entry screens and produces user-specified variations of four standard tables, comprising most of the epidemiological data needed for surveillance and infection control. The program was tested in Danish hospitals and was found to serve well as a simple local tool for the operating staff, offering fast information on infection rates. Results from two hospitals consisting of 3904 operations are presented. Infections occurring after discharge were included. Overall infection rates for clean wounds were 2.3%, clean-contaminated wounds 4.7%, contaminated wounds 4.3% and dirty operations 8.3%. None of the hospitals had used infection surveillance systems before.
The aim of this study was to see if introduction of continuous monitoring of the incidence of surgical wound infections would result in a reduction in the cumulated infection rates. Data from a Danish sentinel system, including more than 65,000 operations, are shown to be sufficiently representative to be used as the basis of a national surveillance system for surgical wound infections. The overall infection rates increased with age and with contamination of the wound. Antibiotic prophylaxis was used in 36% of the operations, with a higher fraction among elderly patients, and in contaminated or major operations. The length of stay was significantly and equally extended for patients with superficial or deep infections, compared to patients without wound infections. The results from 13 departments could be followed at least two years from the beginning of the registration. No general preventive effects of the continuous monitoring were found in these surgical units.
Decreased antibiotic susceptibility among microorganisms isolated from intensive care unit (ICU) patients is found to be associated with high total antibiotic consumption or inappropriate use of antibiotics in the ICUs. The aims of this study were: 1) to characterize the antibiotic consumption in Danish ICUs, and in four ICUs with expectedly large differences in levels of antibiotic consumption, 2) to estimate the association between antibiotic susceptibility among isolated microorganisms and antibiotic consumption. This was done by: 1) a retrospective questionnaire study of the annual supply of antibiotics in 1995 to 30 ICUs in Denmark, and 2) a 2-month prospective study of patients and microbiological samples in four Danish ICUs in 1996. We found that the supply of antibiotics to Danish ICUs was substantial, with a median value of 124 DDD/100 patient days. No association was found between high consumption of antibiotics and decreased antibiotic susceptibility in the four ICUs.
An increased morbidity rate due to Lancefield group A streptococci (GAS) in the Scandinavian countries, beginning late in 1987, led to the present retrospective survey of bacteraemias with GAS in Denmark. Among 242 reported cases from January 1987-December 1989, 94 were found to have been nosocomially acquired, and their occurrence mirrored the pattern of the epidemic with T-type 1 and the seasonal variation of other serotypes in the community. The 27 nosocomial cases from 1988 were studied further. Eighty percent were associated with postoperative wound infection, erysipelas, puerperal or neonatal infection. Of the 52 community-acquired cases in 1988, 80% comprised erysipelas, respiratory tract infection, meningitis, gastrointestinal disease or arthritis. The bacteraemic patients were promptly treated with antibiotics, but the use of penicillin was in some cases delayed because the clinical signs of streptococcal infection were misinterpreted by the attending clinician. Ideally, the nosocomial infections should have been prevented by hygienic measures in the hospitals. When an epidemic situation of this type exists in the community, handwashing routines become vitally important. A warning for epidemics should be extended to the hospital.