SARS-COV-2 outbreak investigation using contact tracing and whole-genome sequencing in an Ontario tertiary care hospital

Tsang et al. Microbiol Spectr. 2023 Apr 24;e0190022.

Genomic epidemiology can facilitate an understanding of evolutionary history and transmission dynamics of a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak. We used next-generation sequencing techniques to study SARS-CoV-2 genomes isolated from patients and health care workers (HCWs) across five wards of a Canadian hospital with an ongoing SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. Using traditional contact tracing methods, we show transmission events between patients and HCWs, which were also supported by the SARS-CoV-2 lineage assignments. The outbreak predominantly involved SARS-CoV-2 B.1.564.1 across all five wards, but we also show evidence of community introductions of lineages B.1, B.1.1.32, and B.1.231, falsely assumed to be outbreak related. Altogether, our study exemplifies the value of using contact tracing in combination with genomic epidemiology to understand the transmission dynamics and genetic underpinnings of a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. Our manuscript describes a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak investigation in an Ontario tertiary care hospital. We use traditional contract tracing paired with whole-genome sequencing to facilitate an understanding of the evolutionary history and transmission dynamics of this SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in a clinical setting. These advancements have enabled the incorporation of phylogenetics and genomic epidemiology into the understanding of clinical outbreaks. We show that genomic epidemiology can help to explore the genetic evolution of a pathogen in real time, enabling the identification of the index case and helping understand its transmission dynamics to develop better strategies to prevent future spread of SARS-CoV-2 in congregate, clinical settings such as hospitals.

Related Posts