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Best practice alert: Preventing spread of Stenotrophomonas

Hand hygiene and other simple measures can prevent this opportunistic pathogen.


Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is a multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacillus that is an opportunistic pathogen, particularly among hospitalized patients. Outbreaks most often occur in ICU patients, hematologic malignancy and bone marrow transplant recipients, hemodialysis patients and neonates. Stenotrophomonas infections are associated with high morbidity and mortality in severely immunocompromised and debilitated individuals.

S. maltophilia is a water organism that survives and multiplies in aqueous environments for extended periods. Contaminated tap water, ice machines or soap have been identified as suspected sources for many hospital outbreaks as well as outbreaks associated with failures in endoscope reprocessing and handling of respiratory equipment and fluids.

Staff should be mindful of the following sources of S. maltophilia as they care for patients and maintain a safe and clean environment.

Staff Hospital environment IV lines and fluids Respiratory equipment, fluids
Hands (poor hand hygiene) Ice machines Central venous catheters Nebulizers, including disposable
Nonhospital-provided hand soaps Hospital tap water Intravenous solutions Respiratory tubing (condensate/circuits)
Disinfection solutions Tracheal suction
Bronchoscopes Pressure-monitoring devices Urine, fluids Dialysis machines
Reprocessing failures Pressure transducer fluid Indwelling Foley catheters, urometers
Irrigation solutions

Basic infection control measures include appropriate use of antibiotics, avoidance of prolonged or unnecessary use of foreign devices and adherence to hand hygiene practices. Strict hand hygiene and contact isolation procedures are essential to reducing clonal spread in the ICU setting.

Prevention measures:

  • Ensure strict adherence to hand hygiene practices.
    • Change gloves and perform hand hygiene between clean and dirty tasks.
    • Do not touch the patient’s environment and then touch intravenous lines or indwelling catheters.
  • Ensure clean and dirty procedures are performed in completely separated areas.
  • Adhere to isolation requirements, particularly in the ICU, IMCU and CCU settings.
  • Ensure strict adherence to manufacturer’s instructions for use for all equipment that comes into contact with a patient or patient’s environment.

For additional questions or support, contact us at As*************************@as****.org

UpToDate August 2022
Hand Hygiene (ASANTE) 400-IC-IC-0004
ISOLATION REQUIREMENTS: Alphabetical Listing of Organisms and Diseases 400-INF-0013

Tags: infection, Sadie Spicer, STAT, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia
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