Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of today's most significant public health threats. It is estimated that over 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant infections. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Fraser Health Authority (FHA) and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) are addressing this concern through the Carbapenemase Producing Organism (CPO) Enhanced Community Surveillance Program. CPOs are multidrug-resistant bacteria that have caused ongoing outbreaks in BC since 2008 and pose a serious challenge for effective antibiotic therapy. Since 2016, the BCCDC has advanced the detection of CPOs in healthcare settings and established BC as the first province where CPO isolates are routinely and timely sequenced to establish the burden of disease in our healthcare facilities.
The project created a platform within the BCCDC Public Health Laboratory that is capable of rapid and automatic integration and analysis of genomic, clinical and epidemiological data in a single pipeline. The established platform allowed for a new dimension of tracking pathogen transmission among healthcare and community facilities that were previously not feasible. The project results directly led to amendments and creations of surveillance procedures and best clinical practices in BC’s healthcare facilities to better prevent CPO transmission. On the national level, the results also supported the creation of the AMR Task Force within PHAC that will be leading the development of AMR policies and strategies in Canada