Genome sequencing could help hospitals track superbug transmissions, researchers say

Whole genome sequencing may be an effective method to track the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals, according to research presented June 23 at the American Society for Microbiology's annual meeting in San Francisco.

For the study, state and local health officials used whole genome sequencing to examine the transmission of a Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria strain at a hospital in Northern California. The strain demonstrated resistance to carbapenems — a last-resort antibiotic.

The hospital found eight patients tested positive for this strain between 2013 and 2015.

"[Whole genome sequencing] allowed us to understand and demonstrate connections among the patients over a multiple year time period, which would not have been possible using epidemiologic information alone," study author Varvara Kozyreva, PhD, of the California Department of Public Health, said in a press release.

Dr. Kozyreva said whole genome sequencing could help hospitals and health officials identify disease transmission paths and implement interventions sooner.

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