Outbreak of erythromycin-resistant staphyloccal conjuctivitis in a new born nursery

Katrina Hedrerg, Terry L. Ristinen, John T. Soler, Karen E. White, Craig W. Hedberg, Michael T. Osterholm, Kristine L. MacDonald

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35 Scopus citations


We investigated an outbreak of erythromycinresistant Staphylococcus aureus conjunctivitis in a hospital newborn nursery that used erythromycin eye ointment to prevent ophthalmia neonatorum. Cases occurred in 2 clusters; 20 (14%) of 146 infants in the nursery developed conjunctivitis from July through October, 1987; and 5 (7%) of 69 infants in the nursery developed conjunctivitis during April and May, 1988. A case-control study of the first cluster demonstrated that culture-confirmed cases were more likely than controls to have received prophylactic erythromycin eye ointment or their initial bath from one nure (odds ratio, 9.0; P = 0.01) or to have been delivered by one physician (odds ratio, 12.7; P = 0.03). The nurse was the only staff person to have a nasopharyngeal culture which yielded erythromycin-resistant S. aureus. Control measures, instituted in October, 1987, included using silver nitrate drops instead of erythromycin eye ointment for prophylaxia; however, in Januray, 1988, the hospital resumed use of erythromycin eye ointment. No additional cases were identified until mid-April, 1988, when the second cluster of cases occurred. At that time the hospital reinstituted the use of silver nitrate and no additional cases were identified. This investigaton illustrates the potential for conjunctival infection with an antimicrobial-resistant pathogen when antimicrobials are used to prevent ophthalmia neonatorum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-273
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1990


  • Conjunctivitis
  • Erythromyein resistance
  • Neonatal nursery
  • Staphylococcus areas


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