Mycobacterium chimaera colonisation of heater–cooler units (HCU) in Western Australia, 2015: investigation of possible iatrogenic infection using whole genome sequencing
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Following the reported link between heater–cooler unit (HCU) colonisation with Mycobacterium chimaera and endocarditis, mycobacterial sampling of all HCUs in use in Western Australia was initiated from August 2015, revealing M. chimaera colonisation in 10 of 15 HCUs. After M. chimaera was isolated from a pleural biopsy from a cardiothoracic patient who may have been exposed to a colonised HCU, a whole genome sequencing investigation was performed involving 65 specimens from 15 HCUs across five hospitals to assess if this infection was related to the HCU. Genetic relatedness was found between the 10 HCU M. chimaera isolates from four hospitals. However the M. chimaera isolate from the cardiothoracic patient was not genetically related to the HCU M. chimaera isolates from that hospital, nor to the other HCU isolates, indicating that the HCUs were not the source of the infection in this patient.
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