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      Rapid Whole-Genome Sequencing for Investigation of a Neonatal MRSA Outbreak

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          Abstract

          Isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) belonging to a single lineage are often indistinguishable by means of current typing techniques. Whole-genome sequencing may provide improved resolution to define transmission pathways and characterize outbreaks. We investigated a putative MRSA outbreak in a neonatal intensive care unit. By using rapid high-throughput sequencing technology with a clinically relevant turnaround time, we retrospectively sequenced the DNA from seven isolates associated with the outbreak and another seven MRSA isolates associated with carriage of MRSA or bacteremia in the same hospital. We constructed a phylogenetic tree by comparing single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the core genome to a reference genome (an epidemic MRSA clone, EMRSA-15 [sequence type 22]). This revealed a distinct cluster of outbreak isolates and clear separation between these and the nonoutbreak isolates. A previously missed transmission event was detected between two patients with bacteremia who were not part of the outbreak. We created an artificial "resistome" of antibiotic-resistance genes and demonstrated concordance between it and the results of phenotypic susceptibility testing; we also created a "toxome" consisting of toxin genes. One outbreak isolate had a hypermutator phenotype with a higher number of SNPs than the other outbreak isolates, highlighting the difficulty of imposing a simple threshold for the number of SNPs between isolates to decide whether they are part of a recent transmission chain. Whole-genome sequencing can provide clinically relevant data within a time frame that can influence patient care. The need for automated data interpretation and the provision of clinically meaningful reports represent hurdles to clinical implementation. (Funded by the U.K. Clinical Research Collaboration Translational Infection Research Initiative and others.).

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          Most cited references 14

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          Invasive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections in the United States.

          As the epidemiology of infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) changes, accurate information on the scope and magnitude of MRSA infections in the US population is needed. To describe the incidence and distribution of invasive MRSA disease in 9 US communities and to estimate the burden of invasive MRSA infections in the United States in 2005. Active, population-based surveillance for invasive MRSA in 9 sites participating in the Active Bacterial Core surveillance (ABCs)/Emerging Infections Program Network from July 2004 through December 2005. Reports of MRSA were investigated and classified as either health care-associated (either hospital-onset or community-onset) or community-associated (patients without established health care risk factors for MRSA). Incidence rates and estimated number of invasive MRSA infections and in-hospital deaths among patients with MRSA in the United States in 2005; interval estimates of incidence excluding 1 site that appeared to be an outlier with the highest incidence; molecular characterization of infecting strains. There were 8987 observed cases of invasive MRSA reported during the surveillance period. Most MRSA infections were health care-associated: 5250 (58.4%) were community-onset infections, 2389 (26.6%) were hospital-onset infections; 1234 (13.7%) were community-associated infections, and 114 (1.3%) could not be classified. In 2005, the standardized incidence rate of invasive MRSA was 31.8 per 100,000 (interval estimate, 24.4-35.2). Incidence rates were highest among persons 65 years and older (127.7 per 100,000; interval estimate, 92.6-156.9), blacks (66.5 per 100,000; interval estimate, 43.5-63.1), and males (37.5 per 100,000; interval estimate, 26.8-39.5). There were 1598 in-hospital deaths among patients with MRSA infection during the surveillance period. In 2005, the standardized mortality rate was 6.3 per 100,000 (interval estimate, 3.3-7.5). Molecular testing identified strains historically associated with community-associated disease outbreaks recovered from cultures in both hospital-onset and community-onset health care-associated infections in all surveillance areas. Invasive MRSA infection affects certain populations disproportionately. It is a major public health problem primarily related to health care but no longer confined to intensive care units, acute care hospitals, or any health care institution.
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            Initial impact of the sequencing of the human genome.

            The sequence of the human genome has dramatically accelerated biomedical research. Here I explore its impact, in the decade since its publication, on our understanding of the biological functions encoded in the genome, on the biological basis of inherited diseases and cancer, and on the evolution and history of the human species. I also discuss the road ahead in fulfilling the promise of genomics for medicine.
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              Landscape of next-generation sequencing technologies.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                New England Journal of Medicine
                N Engl J Med
                Massachusetts Medical Society
                0028-4793
                1533-4406
                June 14 2012
                June 14 2012
                : 366
                : 24
                : 2267-2275
                Article
                10.1056/NEJMoa1109910
                3715836
                22693998
                © 2012
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