Methods for the detection of pathogenic bacteria

Improved detection of pathogenic bacteria would facilitate more effective preventative measures and help inform treatment strategies

Go to the profile of Paul Groundwater
Nov 25, 2015
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) healthcare-associated infection (HAI) survey found that, on any given day, approx. 4% of hospital patients have at least one HAI.1 The effective prevention of cross-infection between patients relies upon rapid and reliable analysis of specimens and the introduction of contact precautions (such as patient isolation).

As an example, relevant NHS bodies in the UK previously had to undertake mandatory screening of all emergency and elective admissions for MRSA; a recent analysis of this policy concluded, however, that compliance was poor,2 but that even if it had been 100%, the strategy would not be cost effective. In England, it has now been recommended that screening is streamlined to only those patients being admitted to high risk units, or who had been previously identified as being colonised or infected by MRSA.2

New surveillance methods for the detection of pathogenic bacteria are required for such large scale screening programs; the ideal method would be easy to use (does not require expensive instrumentation and the test results can be easily interpreted by non-specialized personnel), rapid, reliable, and cost effective (simple). The rapid identification of bacterial pathogens would also inform a more effective pathogen-directed clinical treatment of the infection.

Please watch my recent interview about the impact of the over prescription of antibiotics by medical practitioners:

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Healthcare-associated Infections (HAIs) (, last accessed 19th Nov. 2015).

2Fuller C, Robotham J, Savage J, Hopkins S, Deeny SR, et al. (2013) The National One Week Prevalence Audit of Universal Meticillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Admission Screening 2012. PLoS ONE 8: e74219. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074219).

3 Implementation of modified admission MRSA screening guidance for NHS (2014), Department of Health expert advisory committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI) (, last accessed 19th Nov. 2015)

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