Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections cause substantive morbidity and mortality in neonates. Using publicly available resources from the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) GalaxyTrakr pipeline, we illustrate the dynamics of MRSA colonization and infection in neonates. Over 217 days of prospective surveillance, analyses revealed concurrent MRSA transmission chains affecting 11 of 17 MRSA-colonized patients (65%), with two clusters that demonstrated intervals of more than a month among the appearance of isolates. All MRSA infected neonates ( = 3) showed previous colonization with the infecting strain. GalaxyTrakr clustering of the NICU strains, in the context of 21,521 international isolates deposited in NCBI's Pathogen Detection Resource, revealed NICU isolates to be distinct from adult MRSA strains seen locally and internationally. Clustering of the NICU strains within an international context enhanced the resolution of strain clusters and supported the rule-out of suspected, local transmission events within the NICU. Analyses also identified sequence type 1535 isolates, emergent in the Middle East, carrying a unique SCC with and (6')-Ie/(2'')-1a that provided a multidrug-resistant phenotype. NICU genomic pathogen surveillance, leveraging public repositories and outbreak detection tools, supports rapid identification of cryptic MRSA clusters, and can inform infection prevention interventions for this vulnerable patient population. Results demonstrate that sporadic infections in the NICU may be indicative of hidden chains of asymptomatic transmission best identified with sequenced-based approaches.
J Clin Microbiol
Prospective Genomic Surveillance Reveals Cryptic MRSA Outbreaks with Local to International Origins among NICU Patients.