Genomic Sequencing Illuminates Recent Shigella Outbreaks in California; Researchers ID Genes Associated With Toxin Production and Antibiotic Resistance

In a study that could have significant impact on how disease outbreaks are managed, researchers at UC Davis and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) have sequenced and analyzed genomes from Shigella sonnei (S. sonnei) bacteria associated with major shigellosis outbreaks in California in 2014 and 2015. The results offer new insights into how the bacteria acquired virulence and antibiotic resistance genes, as well as the California strains' relationships to other strains around the world. This was the first major, whole-genome study of S. sonnei strains found in North America. The research was published in online on December 21, 2016 in the journal mSphere. The open-access article is titled “Recent Outbreaks of Shigellosis in California Caused by Two Distinct Populations of Shigella sonnei with Either Increased Virulence or Fluoroquinolone Resistance.” "If you have an outbreak and you want to know what is causing a particular problem, like antibiotic resistance, sequencing the genome can identify the genes involved," said Dr. Jonathan Eisen, Professor with appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and the Department of Evolution and Ecology at UC Davis and a collaborator on the study. "Eventually, we should be able to sequence whole genomes of bacteria to support patient care," he said.
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