Whole-genome sequencing of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales isolates in southeast Louisiana reveals persistent genetic clusters spanning multiple locations

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Journal of Infection and Public Health


Background: We investigated 51 g-negative carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales (CRE) isolates collected from 22 patients over a five-year period from six health care institutions in the Ochsner Health network in southeast Louisiana. Methods: Short genomic reads were generated using Illumina sequencing and assembled for each isolate. Isolates were classified as Enterobacter spp. (n = 20), Klebsiella spp. (n = 30), and Escherichia coli (n = 1) and grouped into 19 different multi-locus sequence types (MLST). Species and patient-specific core genomes were constructed representing ∼50% of the chromosomal genome. Results: We identified two sets of patients with genetically related infections; in both cases, the related isolates were collected > 6 months apart, and in one case, the isolates were collected in different locations. On the other hand, we identified four sets of patients with isolates of the same species collected within 21 days from the same location; however, none had genetically related infections. Genes associated with resistance to carbapenem drugs (blaKPC and/or blaCTX-M-15) were found in 76% of the isolates. We found three blaKPC variants (blaKPC-2, blaKPC-3, and blaKPC-4) associated with four different Enterobacter MLST variants, and two blaKPC variants (blaKPC-2, blaKPC-3) associated with seven different Klebsiella MLST variants. Conclusions: Molecular surveillance is increasingly becoming a powerful tool to understand bacterial spread in both community and clinical settings. This study provides evidence that genetically related infections in clinical settings do not necessarily reflect temporal associations, and vice versa. Our results also highlight the regional genomic and resistance diversity within related bacterial lineages.

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