News & AnalysisInfectious Diseases

Genome Study Helps Contain MRSA Outbreak—And Breeds New Questions

Science  23 Nov 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6110, pp. 1019
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6110.1019

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Summary

When three babies became infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at Cambridge's Rosie Hospital at the same time, a researcher wanted to know if their cases were isolated incidents or part of a bigger outbreak. He didn't realize that the study would help discover an asymptomatic MRSA carrier working in the hospitaland eventually stop the outbreak in its tracks. His study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, is the latest in the burgeoning field dubbed genomic epidemiology, which uses full-genome sequencing of microbes to trace the path that a pathogen tookand, increasingly, to help stop transmission.