Myhrman S, Olausson J, Ringlander J, Gustavsson L, Jakobsson HE, Sansone M, Westin J
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol - (-) 1-5 [2021-08-20; online 2021-08-20]
Effective infection prevention and control (IPC) measures are key for protecting patients from nosocomial infections and require knowledge of transmission mechanisms in different settings. We performed a detailed outbreak analysis of the transmission and outcome of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in a geriatric ward by combining whole-genome sequencing (WGS) with epidemiological data. Retrospective cohort study. Tertiary-care hospital. Patients and healthcare workers (HCWs) from the ward with a nasopharyngeal sample (NPS) positive for severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA during the outbreak period. Patient data regarding clinical characteristics, exposure and outcome were collected retrospectively from medical records. Stored NPSs from 32 patients and 15 HCWs were selected for WGS and phylogenetic analysis. The median patient age was 84 years and 17 (53%) of 32 were male. Also, 14 patients (44%) died within 30 days of sampling. Viral loads were significantly higher among the deceased. WGS was successful in 28 (88%) of 32 patient samples and 14 (93%) of 15 HCW samples. Moreover, 3 separate viral clades were identified: 1 clade and 2 subclades among both patient and HCW samples. Integrated epidemiological and genetic analyses revealed 6 probable transmission events between patients and supported hospital-acquired COVID-19 among 25 of 32 patients. WGS provided an insight into the outbreak dynamics and true extent of nosocomial COVID-19. The extensive transmission between patients and HCWs indicated that current IPC measures were insufficient. We recommend increased use of WGS in outbreak investigations to identify otherwise unknown transmission links and to evaluate IPC measures.