Ralstonia pickettii is a Gram-negative rod which may cause invasive infections when they contaminate liquid medical products. After R. pickettii was detected in blood cultures and a stem cell product from three patients in a tertiary care hospital in Germany, whole genome sequencing of these three isolates and two water isolates from the environment was performed. Core genome multilocus sequence typing analysis showed that the three patient isolates were closely related and there was a large distance to the environmental isolates. In a genomic comparison, the patients' isolates were distantly related to an R. pickettii strain from a cluster in Australia suspected to be caused by contaminated saline produced in India, while all liquid medical products with a link to all patients were produced in Europe or the United States. Our data point towards an ongoing risk by an unknown common source that could be traced back to medical products contaminated with R. pickettii and potentially distributed worldwide. Investigating invasive R. pickettii infections, identifying and testing medical products administered to the patients and timely whole genome sequencing may help identify the exact source of this potentially global outbreak.
Keywords: Ralstonia pickettii; contamination; infection control; infusion solution; sepsis.