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Putting bacteria on the map

Resistant Staphylococcus aureus concentrate in hospitals
Putting bacteria on the map

Location of participating labs

Oeiras, 12.01.10

As one of the main causes of opportunistic infections in hospitals, Staphylococcus aureus are especially troublesome because of the increasing number of methicilin-resistant strains (MRSA). But S. aureus are also present in healthy individuals and propagate in the community. Analyzing the bacteria’s geographical distribution in Europe, researchers concluded that, unlike antibiotic sensitive bacteria that are widely spread, MRSA strains concentrate in health care units. This suggests that containment measures are effective and should be strongly encouraged to prevent spreading within and between health care units. The work appears today in the open acess journal PLoS Medicine.

This work is also a good example of how a decentralized web-base network for epidemiological surveillance can inform clinicians, and infection control teams about the dynamics of MRSA, or any other microorganism, spreading.

Between September 2006 and February 2007, 357 laboratories serving 450 hospitals in 26 European countries collected almost 3,000 samples of Staphylococcus aureus from patients infected with these bacteria. In each country, the national staphylococcal reference lab characterized the samples using a specific typing protocol (previously agreed between the reference labs network) - DNA sequencing of the variable spa region in the S. aureus genome. Results were uploaded to a central database and analyzed by a purpose-built mapping tool producing an interactive map of the geographic distribution of the different clones.

Portuguese results were collected by the Lab of Molecular Genetics, coordinated by Herminia de Lencastre, full professor at ITQB.


Original article

PLoS Med 7(1):doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000215

Geographic Distribution of Staphylococcus aureus Causing Invasive Infections in Europe: A Molecular-Epidemiological Analysis.

Hajo Grundmann, David M., Aanensen, Cees C. van den Wijngaard, Brian G. Spratt, Dag Harmsen, Alexander W., Friedrich, the European Staphylococcal Reference Laboratory Working Group*.

* As researchers from the Portuguese reference laboratory, Marta Aires de Sousa and Hermínia de Lencastre integrate the author list under European Staphylococcal Reference Laboratory Working Group.

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