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To investigate the molecular epidemiology of methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) in infants in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) using whole-genome sequencing.
Investigation of MSSA epidemiology in a NICU.
Single-center, level IV NICU.
Universal S. aureus screening was done using a single swab obtained from the anterior nares, axilla, and groin area of infants in the NICU on a weekly basis. Core genome multilocus sequence type (cgMLST) analysis was performed on MSSA isolates detected over 1 year (2018–2019).
In total, 68 MSSA-colonized infants were identified, and cgMLSTs of 67 MSSA isolates were analyzed. Overall, we identified 11 cgMLST isolate groups comprising 39 isolates (58%), with group sizes ranging from 2 to 10 isolates, and 28 isolates (42%) were unrelated to each other or any of the isolate groups. Cases of infants colonized by MSSA were scattered throughout the 1-year study period, and isolates belonging to the same cgMLST group were typically detected contemporaneously, over a few weeks or a few months. Overall, 13 infants (19.7%) developed MSSA infections: bacteremia (n = 3), wound infection (n = 5), conjunctivitis (n = 4), and cellulitis (n = 1). We detected no association between these clinically manifest infections and specific cgMLST groups.
Although MSSA isolates in infants in a NICU showed high diversity, most were related to other isolates, albeit within small groups. cgMLST facilitates an understanding of the complex transmission dynamics of MSSA in NICUs, and these data can be used to inform better control strategies.
To evaluate whole-genome sequencing (WGS) as a molecular typing tool for MRSA outbreak investigation.
Investigation of MRSA colonization/infection in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) over 3 years (2014–2017).
Single-center level IV NICU.
NICU infants and healthcare workers (HCWs).
Infants were screened for MRSA using a swab of the anterior nares, axilla, and groin, initially by targeted (ring) screening, and later by universal weekly screening. Clinical cultures were collected as indicated. HCWs were screened once using swabs of the anterior nares. MRSA isolates were typed using WGS with core-genome multilocus sequence typing (cgMLST) analysis and by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Colonized and infected infants and HCWs were decolonized. Control strategies included reinforcement of hand hygiene, use of contact precautions, cohorting, enhanced environmental cleaning, and remodeling of the NICU.
We identified 64 MRSA-positive infants: 53 (83%) by screening and 11 (17%) by clinical cultures. Of 85 screened HCWs, 5 (6%) were MRSA positive. WGS of MRSA isolates identified 2 large clusters (WGS groups 1 and 2), 1 small cluster (WGS group 3), and 8 unrelated isolates. PFGE failed to distinguish WGS group 2 and 3 isolates. WGS groups 1 and 2 were codistributed over time. HCW MRSA isolates were primarily in WGS group 1. New infant MRSA cases declined after implementation of the control interventions.
We identified 2 contemporaneous MRSA outbreaks alongside sporadic cases in a NICU. WGS was used to determine strain relatedness at a higher resolution than PFGE and was useful in guiding efforts to control MRSA transmission.
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