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An Outbreak of ST859-K19 Carbapenem-Resistant Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae in a Chinese Teaching Hospital

  • Zhu, Junying
  • Jiang, Xuemei
  • Zhao, Lina
  • Li, Min
Published Article
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
May 16, 2022
DOI: 10.1128/msystems.01297-21
ASM Journals


Carbapenem-resistant hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae (CR-hvKP) has been increasingly reported worldwide. Here, we report an outbreak caused by sequence type 859-K19 (ST859-K19) CR-hvKP isolates in a teaching hospital in China. Interestingly, K. pneumoniae ST859 was a single-locus variant of ST11 but has never been reported before. A total of 11 nonrepetitive ST859 CR-hvKP isolates were collected from 11 patients, 3 of which died of severe CR-hvKP infection. Antimicrobial susceptibility assay results showed that all the 11 CR-hvKP isolates exhibited high-level resistance to commonly used antibiotics, only remaining susceptible to colistin, tigecycline, and ceftazidime/avibactam. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) was performed using the Illumina platform for the 11 CR-hvKP isolates, and RJ9299 was further sequenced using the PacBio platform. A phylogram tree using WGS data revealed that all the 11 CR-hvKP isolates were clustered in 1 clade, which probably indicated clone transmission. Determinants of resistance and virulence gene analysis using WGS data confirmed the 11 isolates had almost identical resistance gene profiles (blaKPC-2, blaTEM-1B, blaSHV-187, rmtB, fosA6) and virulence gene (rmpA, rmpA2, iucABCDiutA) profiles, which hint at clone spread again. The complete genome size of RJ9299 was 5,875 kb, including a 5,445-kb chromosome, a 215-kb virulence plasmid (pVir-CR-hvKP-RJ9299), a 109-kb blaKPC-2-harboring plasmid (pKPC-2-RJ9299), and three circular plasmids. Comparative genomics showed pVir-RJ9299 (IncHI1B type) and pKPC-2-RJ9299 (IncFII-IncR) possessed over 99% similarity to pLVPK and pKPC-CR-hvKP-C789, respectively. Serum resistance assays and a Galleria mellonella infection model showed the 11 isolates exhibited different levels of virulence. This is the first report of an outbreak caused by ST859 CR-hvKP isolates. IMPORTANCE The emergence of carbapenem-resistant hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae (CR-hvKP) in China has posed a great threat to public health, especially in the highly transmissible ST11 clone. With the transmission of virulence and resistance determinants, CR-hvKP isolates have been reported in an increasing number of sequence types (STs), including ST23, ST65, ST1797, ST43, ST231, ST147, ST15, ST383, ST268, ST595, ST375, ST48, and ST307. Here, we report an outbreak caused by ST859-K19 CR-hvKP isolates in a teaching hospital in China. ST859 is a single-locus variant of ST11. There is no literature on ST859 K. pneumoniae in public databases, let alone ST859 CR-hvKP isolates. To our knowledge, this is the first report to depict the molecular and genomic characteristics of ST859 CR-hvKP isolates. Active surveillance approaches should be implemented to promptly find the spread of CR-hvKP isolates in health care settings.

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