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Objective: Multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO), especially carbapenem-resistant organisms (CRO), represent a threat for newborns. This study investigates the colonization prevalence of these pathogens in a newborn unit at a Kenyan tertiary hospital in an integrated approach combining routine microbiology, whole genome sequencing (WGS) and hospital surveillance data. Methods: The study was performed in the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in 2019 over a four-month period and included 300 mother-baby pairs. A total of 1,097 swabs from newborns (weekly), mothers (once) and the hospital environment were taken. Routine clinical microbiology methods were applied for surveillance. Of the 288 detected MDRO, 160 isolates were analyzed for antimicrobial resistance genes and phylogenetic relatedness using whole genome sequencing (WGS) and bioinformatic analysis. Results: In maternal vaginal swabs, MDRO detection rate was 15% (n=45/300), including 2% CRO (n=7/300). At admission, MDRO detection rate for neonates was 16% (n=48/300), including 3% CRO (n=8/300) with a threefold increase for MDRO (44%, n=97/218) and a fivefold increase for CRO (14%, n=29/218) until discharge. Among CRO, K. pneumoniae harboring bla NDM-1 (n=20) or bla NDM-5 (n=16) were most frequent. WGS analysis revealed 20 phylogenetically related transmission clusters (including five CRO clusters). In environmental samples, the MDRO detection rate was 11% (n=18/164), including 2% CRO (n=3/164). Conclusion: Our study provides a snapshot of MDRO and CRO in a Kenyan NBU. Rather than a large outbreak scenario, data indicate several independent transmission events. The CRO rate among newborns attributed to the spread of NDM-type carbapenemases is worrisome.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Cell Infect Microbiol

Publication Date





carbapenemase, colonization, multidrug resistance, ndm, sub-Sahara, whole genome sequencing, Carbapenems, Cross Infection, Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial, Female, Genomics, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Kenya, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Phylogeny, Prospective Studies, Tertiary Care Centers