Investigation of a cluster of Bacillus cereus bacteremia in neonatal care units

An Li Tsai, Yu Chia Hsieh, Chih Jung Chen, Kuan Ying Huang, Cheng Hsun Chiu, Chen Yen Kuo, Tzou Yien Lin, Mei Yin Lai, Ming Chou Chiang, Yhu Chering Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Bacillus cereus is a well-known pathogen for self-limited foodborne illness, and rarely an opportunistic pathogen associated with invasive infections among immunocompromised patients. Nosocomial outbreaks have been rarely reported. Methods: Between August and November 2019, four preterm neonates in neonatal care units of a medical center developed late-onset B. cereus bacteremia. An investigation was carried out. Forty-eight environmental specimens were obtained from these neonatal units, skin surface and environmental objects of Patient 4 for the detection of this organism 19 days after the onset of illness of Patient 4. B. cereus isolates from Patient 4, five unrelated patients and environmental objects if identified were further characterized by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Results: All four infants survived after vancomycin-containing treatment. Patient 4 developed diffuse cerebritis, brain abscess with severe neurologic sequelae. Of the 48 environmental samplings, 26 specimens showed positive for B. cereus, with one major clone (sequence type 365) accounting for 73%. The isolate from Patient 4 (ST427) was identical to one isolate collected from environmental objects in the same unit. After extensive cleaning of the environment and re-institution of the sterilization procedure of hospital linens, which was ceased since two months before the outbreak, no more cases was identified in these units for at least one year. Conclusions: We documented a cluster of B. cereus bacteremia involving four preterm infants, which might be associated with cessation of the procedure for linen sterilization and was successfully controlled by re-institution of this procedure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-502
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacillus cereus
  • Clinical isolates
  • Environmental isolates
  • Genetic relatedness
  • Neonatal units

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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