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A 30 month prospective study of Acinetobacter species encountered in the Central Pathology Laboratory of St James's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland, was conducted to investigate the prevalence and molecular epidemiology of carbapenem resistance in such isolates. Acinetobacter genomic species 3 (AG3) was found to be the predominant Acinetobacter species (45/114, 39 %) in our institution. A total of 11 % of all Acinetobacter species (12/114) and 22 % of AG3 isolates (10/45) were carbapenem resistant. Carbapenem resistance was mediated by Ambler class D [beta]-lactamase OXA-23 in all 12 isolates, with insertion sequence ISAba1 found upstream of blaOXA-23. ISAba1 was also found upstream of blaADC-25, which encodes the enzyme AmpC, in an Acinetobacter baumannii isolate, and upstream of the aminoglycoside-acetyltransferase-encoding gene aacC2 in three AG3 isolates. Inter-species plasmidic transfer was most likely involved in the emergence and spread of blaOXA-23 among the Acinetobacter isolates within our institution. The emergence of carbapenem resistance was associated not only with prior carbapenem use but also with the use of other antimicrobial agents, most notably [beta]-lactam/[beta]-lactamase-inhibitor combinations. The study demonstrated the emerging trend of carbapenem resistance in the wider context of the Acinetobacter genus, and reiterated the paramount importance of the prudent use of antimicrobial agents, stringent infection control measures and resistance surveillance of pathogens.

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