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In May 2016, an unusual outbreak with the Panton-Valentine leukocidin-positive human variant of meticillin-resistant (MRSA) clonal complex 398 occurred among mothers and infants in the maternity unit of a Danish hospital. MRSA sharing genotypic and phenotypic characteristics was confirmed in 36 cases, including 26 patients, nine household members and a healthcare worker (HCW) who had contact with all the patients. The national MRSA database contained 37 seemingly unlinked MRSA cases whose isolates shared the same genotypic and phenotypic characteristics as the outbreak strain. Whole genome sequencing showed that three of these isolates clustered together with the 36 outbreak isolates, suggesting spread outside the hospital. The HCW and 21 of 37 cases from the national MRSA database had links to south-eastern Asia, where the outbreak strain is endemic. These findings suggest that the HCW acquired the outbreak strain while travelling in south-eastern Asia and then introduced it into the hospital; from there, it spread within the patients’ households and into the community. Screening of travellers returning from countries with high levels of MRSA could be an important intervention to prevent spread of these bacteria into hospitals via patients or HCWs.


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