Genomic investigation of a suspected outbreak of Legionella pneumophila ST82 reveals undetected heterogeneity by the present gold-standard methods, Denmark, July to November 2014

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  • Susanne Schjørring
  • Marc Stegger
  • Charlotte Kjelsø
  • Berit Lilje
  • Bangsborg, Jette Marie
  • Randi F. Petersen
  • Sophia David
  • Søren A. Uldum

Between July and November 2014, 15 communityacquired cases of Legionnaires’ disease (LD), including four with Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1 sequence type (ST) 82, were diagnosed in Northern Zealand, Denmark. An outbreak was suspected. No ST82 isolates were found in environmental samples and no external source was established. Four putativeoutbreak ST82 isolates were retrospectively subjected to whole genome sequencing (WGS) followed by phylogenetic analyses with epidemiologically unrelated ST82 sequences. The four putative-outbreak ST82 sequences fell into two clades, the two clades were separated by ca 1,700 single nt polymorphisms (SNP) s when recombination regions were included but only by 12 to 21 SNPs when these were removed. A single putative-outbreak ST82 isolate sequence segregated in the first clade. The other three clustered in the second clade, where all included sequences had < 5 SNP differences between them. Intriguingly, this clade also comprised epidemiologically unrelated isolate sequences from the UK and Denmark dating back as early as 2011. The study confirms that recombination plays a major role in L. pneumophila evolution. On the other hand, strains belonging to the same ST can have only few SNP differences despite being sampled over both large timespans and geographic distances. These are two important factors to consider in outbreak investigations.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number25
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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