Routine testing in 2018 in a Queensland hospital identified a number of babies in the hospital’s neonatal unit tested positive to ESBL producing Klebsiella oxytoca, a multi-drug resistant and potentially virulent pathogen in neonates.

The usual approaches to tracking and preventing the bacteria from spreading weren’t working, but by using genomic testing, the Infection Prevention and Control team managed to track it back to the source.

Initial genomic testing results suggested an environmental reservoir was the transmission source. Subsequently whole genome sequencing (WGS) was used to investigate 60 environmental sources of transmission during the outbreak.

genomics for infection prevention and control
Genomics used to stop outbreak in Queensland hospital. ISTOCK.COM/METINKIYAK

The source of transmission was found to be detergent bottles used in the special care unit. No new cases emerged once these detergent bottles were removed. In this case, WGS was instrumental in revealing the route of transmission and guiding the infection control response. Controlling the outbreak early meant avoiding any serious harm to any babies.

This research has been published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Read the Brisbane Times coverage on this story: How genetic sleuths stopped a superbug outbreak in a Brisbane hospital