Doctors Halt MRSA Hospital Outbreak

Doctors in a Cambridge hospital have been able to stop the continued outbreak of MRSA by cracking the disease’s genetic code.

This breakthrough, which took place at Rosie Hospital, is the first time doctors have been able to track and close down an MRSA infection, and experts hope that such events will become common practice in all hospitals in the future.

The disease was found in 12 babies in the hospital, which allows doctors to take samples from each to build up a “family tree” of the disease and work out which were part of the same outbreak. From there, deep cleaning removed the disease from the hospital and, upon its return, doctors could see that it was part of the same outbreak and so were able to find the carrier.

Around one in 100 people carry the disease on their skin without knowing it and so, after testing 154 members of staff, the experts were able to find the carrier and treat them for the MRSA.

As well as providing a breakthrough in the fight against disease in hospitals, it’s also new ground in terms of cost, bringing a technique that used to cost millions of pounds to about £50.

Dr Julian Parkhill of the Sanger Institute said, "This is really exciting for us because it gave the hospital the opportunity to intervene. We think this is the first case where whole genome sequencing has actually led to a clinical intervention and brought the outbreak to a close."

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