Surveillance and outbreak reports Open Access
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Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS) is a blistering skin condition caused by exfoliative toxin-producing strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Outbreaks of SSSS in maternity settings are rarely reported. We describe an outbreak of SSSS that occurred among neonates born at a maternity unit in England during December 2012 to March 2013. Detailed epidemiological and microbiological investigations were undertaken. Eight neonates were found to be infected with the outbreak strain of S. aureus, of spa type t346, representing a single pulsotype. All eight isolates contained genes encoding exfoliative toxin A (eta) and six of them contained genes encoding toxin B (etb). Nasal swabs taken during targeted staff screening yielded a staphylococcal carriage rate of 21% (17/80), but none contained the outbreak strain. Mass screening involving multi-site swabbing and pooled, enrichment culture identified a healthcare worker (HCW) with the outbreak strain. This HCW was known to have a chronic skin condition and their initial nasal screen was negative. The outbreak ended when they were excluded from work. This outbreak highlights the need for implementing robust swabbing and culture methods when conventional techniques are unsuccessful in identifying staff carrier(s). This study adds to the growing body of evidence on the role of HCWs in nosocomial transmission of S. aureus.


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