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J Clin Microbiol. 1995 Mar; 33(3): 551–555.
PMCID: PMC227989

Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis as a replacement for bacteriophage typing of Staphylococcus aureus.


Bacteriophage typing (BT) (World Health Organization method) has been used at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for over 30 years to type isolates of Staphylococcus aureus. Since studies have shown that BT patterns have poor reproducibility and because BT fails to type a high percentage (15 to 20%) of isolates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has converted from using BT to using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) for strain typing S. aureus. We compared the results of BT with results of PFGE for typing 300 isolates of S. aureus, including strains from several well-characterized outbreaks. Ninety-six isolates were BT group I, 19 were group II, 82 were group III, 7 were group V, and 96 were nontypeable. PFGE identified subgroups within each phage group and thus was more discriminating than BT, which identified no subgroups. PFGE was able to type all isolates and distinguish related from unrelated strains of S. aureus. Our modified, standardized PFGE methodology should enable typing laboratories to obtain rapid, reliable results in 3 to 4 days when starting with an isolated colony on agar media.

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Selected References

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