Pseudomonas aeruginosa intensive care unit outbreak: winnowing of transmissions with molecular and genomic typing

B. J. Parcell*, K. Oravcova, M. Pinheiro, M. T.G. Holden, G. Phillips, J. F. Turton, S. H. Gillespie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Pseudomonas aeruginosa healthcare outbreaks can be time consuming and difficult to investigate. Guidance does not specify which typing technique is most practical for decision-making. Aim: To explore the usefulness of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) in the investigation of a P. aeruginosa outbreak, describing how it compares with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) analysis. Methods: Six patient isolates and six environmental samples from an intensive care unit (ICU) positive for P. aeruginosa over two years underwent VNTR, PFGE and WGS. Findings: VNTR and PFGE were required to fully determine the potential source of infection and rule out others. WGS results unambiguously distinguished linked isolates, giving greater assurance of the transmission route between wash-hand basin water and two patients, supporting the control measures employed. Conclusion: WGS provided detailed information without the need for further typing. When allied to epidemiological information, WGS can be used to understand outbreak situations rapidly and with certainty. Implementation of WGS in real-time would be a major advance in day-to-day practice. It could become a standard of care as it becomes more widespread due to its reproducibility and lower costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-288
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors


  • Outbreak
  • Pseudomonas spp.
  • Resistance
  • Sequencing
  • Water


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