largely due to multidrug resistance plasmids that can transfer between different bacterial strains and species. Horizontal gene transfer of resistance plasmids can complicate hospital outbreaks and cause problems in epidemiological tracing, since tracing is usually based on bacterial clonality. We have developed a method, based on optical DNA mapping combined with Cas9-assisted identification of resistance genes, which is used here to characterize plasmids during an extended-spectrum -lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae outbreak at a Swedish neonatal intensive care unit. The outbreak included 17 neonates initially colonized with ESBLproducing Klebsiella pneumoniae (ESBL-KP), some of which were found to carry additional ESBL-producing Escherichia coli (ESBL-EC) in follow-up samples. We demonstrate that all ESBL-KP isolates contained two plasmids with the blaCTX-M-15 gene located on the smaller one (~80 kbp). The same ESBL-KP clone was present in follow-up samples for up to 2 years in some patients, and the plasmid carrying the blaCTX-M-15 gene was stable throughout this time period. However, extensive genetic rearrangements within the second plasmid were observed in the optical DNA maps for several of the ESBL-KP isolates. Optical mapping also demonstrated that even though other bacterial clones and species carrying blaCTX-M group 1 genes were
found in some neonates, no transfer of resistance plasmids had occurred. The data instead pointed toward unrelated acquisition of ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (EPE). In addition to revealing important information about the specific outbreak, the method presented is a promising tool for surveillance and infection control in clinical settings.
- Antibiotic resistance
- Intensive care unit
- Optical DNA mapping