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March 1981

Outbreak of Staphylococcal Infections Following Heel Puncture for Blood Sampling

Am J Dis Child. 1981;135(3):277-278. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1981.02130270069025

Heel puncture to collect blood samples from newborns has replaced venipuncture in many hospitals. The procedure is simple to perform and complications are rare, although infections at the puncture site have been reported.1-5 In five infants hospitalized in our neonatal units within a seven-month period, serious staphylococcal infections of their heels developed. This article describes the investigation of the outbreak and the preventive measures that were instituted.

Report of a Case.—An epidemiologic investigation was undertaken after development of staphylococcal heel infections in three infants within a six-week period. The index case, a 3,660-g boy, was born to a 19-year-old woman with preeclampsia. The baby had hyperbilirubinemia that necessitated phototherapy and serial serum bilirubin measurements (13 heel punctures). He was discharged at 6 days of age. At 15 days of age his left heel became red and swollen, and drained pus spontaneously. Staphylococcus aureus grew from a culture of