Whole genome sequencing – lessons learned from investigating the heater cooler outbreak

Deborah A Williamson 1

1 Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory, Doherty Institute, University of Melbourne


Mycobacterium chimaera has emerged globally in the last two years as a cause of invasive, often fatal, post-operative surgical site cardiac infections.  Following reports form the Northern hemisphere of post-surgical infections associated with heater-cooler units (HCUs), healthcare institutions in Australia and New Zealand (NZ) commenced mycobacterial testing on water samples from HCUs in early 2015, with reports of patient infections in Australia shortly thereafter.

This talk will provide an overview of the laboratory aspects of testing for M. chimaera, with a specific focus on the use of whole genome sequencing in establishing national and international relatedness of isolates.

About the College

The ACIPC is the peak body for Infection Prevention and Control professionals in the Australasian region. Our stated vision is the prevention and control of infection in our communities. We commenced in January 2012 bringing together the various State and Territory infection control associations formerly in AICA (The Australian Infection Control Association) to support and encourage collaboration across Australasia.

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