In February 1999, an outbreak of listeriosis caused by Listeria monocytogenes serotype 3a occurred in Finland. All isolates were identical. The outbreak strain was first isolated in 1997 in dairy butter. This dairy began delivery to a tertiary care hospital (TCH) in June 1998. From June 1998 to April 1999, 25 case patients were identified (20 with sepsis, 4 with meningitis, and 1 with abscess; 6 patients died). Patients with the outbreak strain were more likely to have been admitted to the TCH than were patients with other strains of L. monocytogenes (60% vs. 8%; odds ratio, 17.3; 95% confidence interval, 2.8-136.8). Case patients admitted to the TCH had been hospitalized longer before cultures tested positive than had matched controls (median, 31 vs. 10 days; P=.008). An investigation found the outbreak strain in packaged butter served at the TCH and at the source dairy. Recall of the product ended the outbreak.
An outbreak of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) occurred in surgical and internal medicine units of a 1752-bed Finnish tertiary care hospital during 2003-2004. In order to analyse the costs of this 14-month outbreak, patients were categorized as follows: patients with MRSA infections; patients with MRSA colonization; patients exposed to MRSA but whose MRSA status remained inconclusive; and exposed patients who were negative for MRSA. We reviewed a sample of patients' charts to determine the types of clinical infections and interviewed staff about the practical implementation of control measures. The number of patients and patient-days involved in the outbreak were identified from the hospital's databases, with the administrative database supplying unit costs of work and materials. Loss of income due to closed beds was analysed. A total of 266 MRSA-positive patients (114 with infections and 152 colonized) and 797 patients exposed to MRSA were identified (11,744 contact isolation days). There were 1240 patients negative after screening (9880 contact isolation days). Total additional costs of MRSA were 386,062 euro (70% for screening and 25% for contact isolation). Costs due to meticillin resistance in treatment of MRSA infections were 16,000 euro. The income loss for this hospital due to closed beds was 1,183,808 euro. The high cost of MRSA screening underlines the importance of appropriate screening methods. Our model of analysing costs might be useful for other hospitals after adapting variables such as local control measures.
Deep, respiratory tract and ear infections due to Microascaceae (Pseudallescheria, Scedosporium, Microascus or Scopulariopsis) were studied nationwide in Finland during 1993-2002. The data were based on 52,000 fungal cultures that represented about 50% of all such specimens in Finland and included all Finnish cases of profound immunosuppression. There were 39 cases that were re-evaluated as clinically significant, i.e., three pneumonias, two deep pedal infections and five wound infections, 11 sinusitis and 18 ear infections. The pedal infections and most pneumonias occurred in immunocompromised patients. Most cases, except the ear infections, were due to Pseudallescheria boydii. Two patients had lethal P. boydii pneumonia and a deep P. boydii infection of the foot contributed to a third lethal case. Two of the patients with lethal outcomes had received an allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT). Two patients with haematological malignancies were cured of deep site infections by a prolonged course of itraconazole. Wound, sinus and ear infections were cured or improved by local surgery or topical therapy. There were 0.8-1.7 cases of any type of infection per million inhabitants per year (MY) and 3.4 cases/1000 AHSCT. Mortality associated with Microascaceae in any type of patient was 0.06-0.12 MY.
Based on small single-centre series, the risk of invasive fungal infections (IFI) has been considered small in autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) recipients.
To analyse epidemiological and clinical features of (IFI) among ASCT recipients in Finland 1990-2001.
During the study period, 1188 adult patients received high-dose therapy supported by ASCT in six centres. Altogether, 1112 patients (94%) received blood progenitor cells. The graft was CD34+ selected in 261 patients (22%). The major diagnostic groups were non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (n = 417), multiple myeloma (n = 395), breast cancer (n = 132) and Hodgkin's lymphoma (n = 53).
Eighteen patients (1.5%) with IFI were identified. The incidence of proven or probable invasive aspergillosis was 0.8%, followed by candidaemia with an incidence of 0.3%. The median time to the diagnosis of IFI was 35 d (6-162) from the progenitor cell infusion. In fourteen patients (78%) IFI was diagnosed during lifetime and they were treated with antifungal therapy for a median of 50 d. Nine patients (64%) were cured.
IFI appears to be a rare event after ASCT and Aspergillus infections seem to be predominant. These epidemiological features have an impact in planning prophylactic and empirical antifungal strategies in ASCT recipients.
Norovirus outbreaks are difficult to control in hospitals. Cohorting and contact isolation, disinfective surface cleaning and hand hygiene are key elements in outbreak control. A new norovirus variant, GII.4.-2006b, spreading across many continents, caused an exceptionally long epidemic period in Finland, from November 2006 to June 2007. Here, we describe the clinical and molecular characteristics of a norovirus outbreak in a large tertiary care hospital in Finland. Altogether 240 (18%) patients and 205 (19%) healthcare workers fell ill in the 504 bedded main building of Helsinki University Central Hospital during December 2006 to May 2007. The epidemic curve had three peaks in January, February and April, and different wards were affected each time. During the outbreak, 502 patient stool specimens were tested for norovirus RNA, 181 (36%) of which were positive. Molecular analysis of 48 positive specimens revealed three main subvariants of GII.4.-2006b circulating temporally within distinct wards. Of all microbiologically confirmed cases, 121 (67%) were nosocomial and nine (5%) died within 30 days of diagnosis. Molecular analysis suggested that the three main GII.4-2006b subvariants entered the hospital with gastroenteritis patients, and the nosocomial spread within wards coincided with the epidemic peaks. Active control measures, including temporary closure of the wards, ultimately confined the single-ward outbreaks. A prolonged outbreak in the community was probably the source for the prolonged outbreak period in the hospital.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of caspofungin in patients treated in Finland during the period 2001-2004. The medical records of 78 adult patients treated with caspofungin in five major hospitals were reviewed retrospectively. Fifty-nine (76%) patients had proven invasive fungal infection, of whom 22 (28%) had aspergillosis and 37 (47%) had candidiasis. Nineteen (24%) patients were treated empirically; only 13 (17%) patients received caspofungin as primary therapy. A favourable response was achieved in 52 (67%) patients. The response rate was 78% in patients with candidiasis, and 50% in patients with aspergillosis. At the end of the study period, 40 (51%) patients remained alive; of the 38 deaths, nine (24%) were caused by fungal infection. The response rates were lower, although not significantly, for patients with high (>20) vs. low (20 days) vs. shorter duration (