DNA sequencing of MRSA used to stop outbreak


An outbreak of the hospital superbug MRSA has been brought to an end by UK doctors cracking the bacterium’s genetic code.

It led to them finding one member of staff at Rosie Hospital, in Cambridge, who may have unwittingly carried and spread the infection.

They say it is the first time rapid genetic testing has been used to track and then stop an outbreak.

One expert said this would soon become “standard practice” in hospitals.

Doctors were concerned after MRSA was detected in 12 babies during routine screening.

However, current tests could not tell if it was one single outbreak being spread around the unit or if they were separate cases being brought into the hospital. About one in 100 people carry MRSA on their skin without any health problems.

To find out, researchers at the University of Cambridge and the Sanger Institute embarked on more sophisticated version of a paternity test.

They compared the entire genetic code of MRSA bugs from each baby to build a family tree. It showed they were all closely related and part of the same outbreak.

After two months without a case and deep cleaning the ward, another case appeared. Analysing the DNA showed that it was again part of the outbreak and attention turned to a carrier.

Written By: James Gallagher
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk


  1. I remember when nay-sayers were arguing that the human genome project being a waste of time and money and being too “big science” for biology like some kind of interloper from particle physics. It was also predicted that we would only know the benefits 20 yrs later and not just with medicine and genetics (I think Richard Dawkins was one of those positive voices at the time).
    The vast increase in DNA sequencing speed was mostly kicked off by the HGP as until then no-one had even thought to try and sequence billions of nucleotides at once or do entire genomes/chromasomes etc.
    Yet more evidence that we only know the true benefits of cutting edge science years and years after the fact. Bravo to the staff at the hospital for some great detective work.

    The cost of working out the entire genetic code of a bacterium has plummeted from millions of pounds to about £50.

    The time it takes has also fallen dramatically from months to hours.

    Dr Parkhill said it could get even cheaper: “People are talking about the thousand dollar human genome.

    “If you can do the human genome for a thousand dollars you can do a bacterial genome for one dollar.”

    Sir Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “This is a dramatic demonstration that medical genomics is no longer a technology of the future – it is a technology of the here and now.”

    .. .. .. A great diagnostic tool based on the genome showing evolutionary history of the bacteria.  It is becoming progressively more affordable as an aid to eradicating infection!


    Meanwhile – back in the land of the cretinists:-



  3. ‘That’s nice. You go to a clinic to get better, not worse.’

    Why, how many times have you gotten worse after going to the clinic?


    Why, how many times have you gotten worse after going to the clinic?

    My father-in-law made a full recovery from three operations in hospital, caught C-diff just before he was due to come out – and died of it a few days later.

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