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Stopped in its Tracks

Scientists in the UK report using whole-genome sequencing to analyze an outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in an infant unit at a British hospital. As they report in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the scientists, led by Sharon Peacock from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge, sequenced the whole genomes of MRSA isolates from colonized patients in the unit as well as isolates from other parts of the hospital and from the community.

While the hospital infection-control team, using standard screens, found 12 infants who were colonized with MRSA, it could not establish whether or not there was an outbreak. The results from the whole-genome sequencing project, though, found 26 related MRSA cases and found evidence of transmission of the bug between patients in the unit, mothers, and the community. Further, the researchers uncovered a staff member who carried MRSA, which contributed to the continuation of the outbreak, even after a deep clean. The BBC adds that that staff member is undergoing treatment for MRSA.

"We believe this brought the outbreak to a close," says the Sanger Institute's Julian Parkhill to the BBC adding that "this is really exciting for us because it gave the hospital the opportunity to intervene."

Daily Scan's sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this project here.

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