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Keywords:

  • China;
  • drug resistance;
  • earthquake;
  • nosocomial infection;
  • quarantine;
  • susceptibility testing

Abstract

On 12 May 2008, an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale struck Wenchuan County, Sichuan, China. Between 12 May and 11 June, 1823 victims were hospitalized in West China Hospital. These patients were severely injured, and most of their wounds were contaminated. Here, the results of bacteriological identification and antibiotic susceptibility testing of 725 non-duplicate isolates from earthquake victims are presented. Gram-negative bacilli were most frequently isolated (71.3%). Only 18.9% of isolates were Gram-positive bacteria; Candida spp. accounted for 9.7%, and Gram-negative cocci for 0.1%. After anaerobic culture, four Clostridium sordellii strains and one Clostridium bifermentans strain were isolated from deep wounds. Specimen culture from earthquake victims revealed a spectrum of pathogens and antibiotic susceptibilities that was different from that usually encountered in West China Hospital, especially concerning methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, extended-spectrum β-lactamase producers, and multidrug-resistant (MDR) non-fermenting Gram-negative bacilli. The pathophysiology of the injuries in earthquake victims was different from that in the patients who were not earthquake victims. A combination of environmental bacteria with a high proportion of Gram-negative bacteria was often observed in the earthquake victims. Approximately 26% of all earthquake victims were shown to be carriers of MDR microorganisms. Therefore, appropriate microbiological assessment upon admission, and identification of patients to be put in quarantine, is of paramount importance.