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Sequencing Identifies Spread of Deadly Bacterial Outbreak

Last Updated: August 23, 2012.

A drug-resistant bacterial strain that caused a serious outbreak resulting in deaths has been traced back to the original patient, and transmission patterns have been identified based on sequencing the genomes of the bacterial isolates, according to research published in the Aug. 22 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

THURSDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- A drug-resistant bacterial strain that caused a serious outbreak resulting in deaths has been traced back to the original patient, and transmission patterns have been identified based on sequencing the genomes of the bacterial isolates, according to research published in the Aug. 22 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Evan S. Snitkin, Ph.D., from the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues described how a patient known to be colonized with carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, despite being immediately placed in isolation for the hospital stay, was identified as the source of a hospital outbreak that spread to 18 patients, 11 of whom died.

The researchers note that the additional cases of carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae were identified after the isolated patient was discharged. Using whole-genome sequencing of the bacterium from the original patient and the 18 outbreak patients, they were able to determine that the original patient had genetically distinct isolates that could be traced to the other patients. Genomic and epidemiological analysis indicated that the outbreak originated from three independent transmissions from the original patient.

"Our analysis demonstrates that integration of genomic and epidemiological data can yield actionable insights and facilitate the control of nosocomial transmission," Snitkin and colleagues conclude.

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