Mastering Resistant Bacteria using Whole Genome Sequencing

Ms Trish Hurst1, Mrs Michelle Doidge1, Dr Krispin Hajkowicz1,3, Dr Patrick Harris2,6,7, Dr Brian Forde9, Mr Haakon Bergh2, Dr Amy Jennison4, Ms Leah Roberts9, Dr Tony Allworth1,3,8, Professor Graeme Nimmo2,5, Associate Professor Scott Beatson9, Professor David Paterson6

1Royal Brisbane And Women’s Hospital, Herston, QLD, Australia

2Pathology Queensland, Herston, QLD, Australia

3The University of Queensland, School of Medicine, St Lucia, QLD, Australia

4Public Health Microbiology, Forensic and Scientific Services, Queensland Department of Health, Coopers Plains, QLD, Australia

5School of Medicine, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD, Australia

6Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research (UQCCR), Herston, QLD, Australia

7Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba, QLD, Australia

8Mater Pathology Services, South Brisbane, QLD, Australia

9School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre, Australian Centre for Ecogenomics, St Lucia, QLD, Australia


The emergence of highly resistant Multi-Resistant Organisms (MROs) poses an increasing risk for the acquisition of Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI). The competing need for single rooms coupled with increasing numbers of patients becoming colonised or infected with an MRO also poses significant challenges in providing appropriate isolation and other infection control precautions whilst maintaining high quality clinical care.

Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) is revolutionising the surveillance of MROs in healthcare settings. This innovative technology has the potential to provide the evidence to effect change to long standing practices regarding patient placement priorities and management strategies, creating capacity to cope with future demands. Routine ultra-high-resolution typing by rapid, next-generation WGS performed routinely on multi-drug resistant bacteria identified in hospitalised patients allows infection control teams to optimise delivery of limited resources and help prevent outbreaks before they become established.

The Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital is a key collaborator in the Queensland Genomic Health Alliance (QGHA) Nosocomial Demonstration Project, alongside two other Brisbane hospitals is helping integrate science to provide safer patient care. Participation in this Project commenced 1 January 2018 with WGS being performed routinely on a specified number of MROs identified in hospitalised patients.

For the first time WGS will help prove or refute direct transmission and HAI acquisition. This has big benefits in; early detection of outbreaks/transmission, optimisation of limited resources including single rooms; cleaning teams, education and inform decisions about ward closures, minimising interruption to service delivery and providing high quality patient centred care.


Trish is Clinical Nurse Consultant in the Infection Monitoring and Prevention Service at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. Trish has worked in infection Prevention and Control for the past 13 years at the RBWH and The Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Trish has an interest in embracing new technology that supports infection prevention and control strategies and the delivery of high quality patient centred care

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