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Bacterial DNA sequence used to map an infection outbreak
Date:11/13/2012

hnology and demonstrated clearly that all the MRSA bacteria were closely related and that this was an outbreak. They also revealed that the outbreak was more extensive than previously realised, finding that over twice as many people were carrying or were infected with the same outbreak strain. Many of these additional cases were people who had recent links to the hospital but were otherwise healthy and living in the community when they developed a MRSA infection.

While this sequencing study was underway, the infection control team identified a new case of MRSA carriage in the Special Care Baby Unit, which occurred 64 days after the last MRSA-positive patient had left the same unit. The team used advanced DNA sequencing to show in real time that this strain was also part of the outbreak, despite the lack of apparent links between this case and previous patients. This raised the possibility that an individual was unknowingly carrying and transmitting the outbreak MRSA strain.

The infection control team screened 154 healthcare workers for MRSA and found that one staff member was carrying MRSA. Using DNA sequencing, they confirmed that this MRSA strain was linked to the outbreak. This healthcare worker was quickly treated to eradicate their MRSA carriage and thus remove the risk of further spread.

"Our study highlights the power of advanced DNA sequencing used in real time to directly influence infection control procedures," says Dr Julian Parkhill, lead author from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "There is a real health and cost burden from hospital outbreaks and significant benefits to be gained from their prevention and swift containment. This technology holds great promise for the quick and accurate identification of bacterial transmissions in our hospitals and could lead to a paradigm shift in how we manage infection control and practice."

In this instance, DNA sequencing was a key step in bringing the outbreak to a close,
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Contact: Aileen Sheehy
press.office@sanger.ac.uk
44-012-234-96928
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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