Application of genomic studies in epidemiological surveillance: A mini-overview

The 21st century has already seen the emergence of several pandemics both in developed and developing nations, including the recent Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. The recent upsurge in certain diseases clearly indicates the need for continuous epidemiological surveillance and real-time monitoring of infectious diseases. Interestingly, genomics has found extensive application in monitoring infectious diseases through the sequencing of bacteria, parasites, and virus genomes. The continual scrutiny of pathogens and the examination of their genetic similarities and distinctions constitute genomic surveillance. The potential of genomic sequencing lies in its ability to offer a significantly more detailed depiction of the evolution and transmission of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), thus initiating a transformative impact on how public health surveillance networks address bacterial AMR. The utilization of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) stands as a prevalent technique for identifying and tracking pathogens, establishing transmission routes, and managing outbreaks. However, despite several decades of advancements, the seamless integration of genomics into surveillance pipelines faces substantial barriers that necessitate overcoming. Recent advances in genomics and next-generation sequencing approaches provide new paradigms for monitoring transmission pipelines and reducing overall morbidity and mortality. In this mini review, we highlight the advances in genomics, how they have been critical in epidemiological surveillance and monitoring outbreaks, and how they can help predict and monitor possible future outbreaks.

 Anekpo Chijioke Chinedu, Okpara Titus Chukwubuzo, Nnadi Chinedu Gabriel