The re­si­li­ence of a hos­pital-as­so­ci­ated bac­terium dates back over a cen­tury

By combining old clinical specimens and new technology, it was determined that Enterococcus faecalis, a pathogen well known for hospital-acquired infections, has adapted to hospital conditions already in mid-nineteenth century – long before the first modern hospitals were built.
An extensive international study has discovered features related to the origin and evolution of the Enterococcus faecalis bacterium which have enabled it to survive in spite of advances associated with antibiotics and infection control in hospitals. The research consortium was led by Professor Jukka Corander, who is affiliated with the University of Helsinki, the University of Oslo and the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge, United Kingdom. The results were published in March in the Nature Communications journal.

New study provides a further emphasis to the importance of monitoring the microbiota of patients who are hospitalised to detect individuals carrying hospital-associated strains as early as possible.

Enterococcus faecalis is an intestinal bacterium that colonizes a wide variety of host species and is a common cause of sepsis and heart inflammation. E. faecalis is also known as a hospital-associated bacterial species, with related infections that are often difficult to treat, as some strains are resistant to multiple classes of antibiotics.

The researchers combined old and modern clinical specimens, specimens from healthy humans and animals, the state-of-the-art Nanopore DNA sequencing technique and novel analysis techniques developed by Corander’s group. This enabled them to uncover a number of features associated particularly with bacterial strains that have taken root in hospitals.

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