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Molecular epidemiology of a Parainfluenza Type 3 virus outbreak: Informing infection control measures on adult hematology wards.

OBJECTIVES: Parainfluenza virus type 3 (PIV3) outbreaks among hematology patients are associated with high morbidity and mortality. Prompt implementation of infection prevention (IP) measures has proven to be the most efficacious approach for controlling PIV3 outbreaks within this patient population. The most suitable IP measures can vary depending on the mode of virus transmission, which remains unidentified in most outbreaks. We describe the molecular epidemiology of an outbreak of PIV3 among hematology patients and the development of a new method that allows for the differentiation of outbreak and community strains, from which a closed outbreak could be inferred.

METHODS: Patients were screened for respiratory viruses using multiplex-PCR. PIV3 positive samples with a cycle threshold (Ct)-value of <31 underwent a retrospective characterization via an in-house developed sequence analysis of the hemagglutinin-neuraminidase (HN) gene.

RESULTS: Between July and September 2022, 31 hematology patients were identified with PIV3. Although infection control measures were implemented, the outbreak persisted for nine weeks. Sequencing the HN gene of 27 PIV3 strains from 27 patients revealed that all outbreak strains formed a distinct cluster separate from the control strains, suggestive of a nosocomial transmission route.

CONCLUSIONS: Sequencing the HN gene of PIV3 strains in an outbreak setting enables outbreak strains to be distinguished from community strains. Early molecular characterization of PIV3 strains during an outbreak can serve as a tool in determining potential transmission routes. This, in turn, enables rapid implementation of targeted infection prevention measures, with the goal of minimizing the outbreak's duration and reducing associated morbidity and mortality.

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