Infectious Diseases Surveillance System Detects Drug-Resistant Infection Outbreak

Infectious Diseases Surveillance System Detects Drug-Resistant Infection Outbreak

A surveillance system developed by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine successfully detected an outbreak of a drug-resistant infection spread by eye drops months before it was revealed by national public health officials. The system, known as Enhanced Detection System for Healthcare-Associated Transmission (EDS-HAT), flagged cases of the infection at a UPMC hospital and showcased the potential of whole genome sequencing surveillance to detect and stop outbreaks sooner.

Whole genome sequencing is a technology that analyzes the unique DNA fingerprints of pathogens in a patient’s sample. By comparing the genetic code from samples of different patients, researchers can determine if there is a close match, indicating an outbreak. The use of whole genome sequencing allowed researchers to identify the outbreak of the drug-resistant infection linked to the use of artificial tears.

UPMC is one of the few hospital systems in the U.S. using whole genome sequencing in this manner. In October 2022, UPMC detected two cases of the drug-resistant infection through EDS-HAT, although there was no apparent connection between the patients. However, when the CDC shared the genetic code, it was discovered that both cases were part of the outbreak linked to artificial tears.

Further analysis of the genetic sequences revealed that the bacterium’s origins could be traced back to samples collected in 2013 and 2018 from India and Nigeria. The results suggest that the eye drops were likely contaminated in a manufacturing facility overseas. This information could have been detected much earlier if more hospitals were using whole genome sequencing surveillance and sharing their results with a centralized public database.

The research team emphasizes the importance of implementing this technology in hospitals to detect and prevent outbreaks more effectively. By utilizing whole genome sequencing surveillance, hospitals can identify and respond to outbreaks within their walls faster. Furthermore, sharing this data with other hospitals and public health authorities can help stop national outbreaks in their tracks.

The study highlights the potential of infectious diseases surveillance systems and the role of whole genome sequencing in detecting and preventing the spread of drug-resistant infections.

Source: The Journal of Infectious Diseases

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