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J Clin Microbiol. Oct 1996; 34(10): 2619–2622.
PMCID: PMC229337

Rapid identification of Salmonella serovars in feces by specific detection of virulence genes, invA and spvC, by an enrichment broth culture-multiplex PCR combination assay.


In order to make a rapid and definite diagnosis of Salmonella enteritis in children, an enrichment broth culture-multiplex PCR combination assay was devised to identify Salmonella serovars directly from fecal samples. Two pairs of oligonucleotide primers were prepared according to the sequences of the chromosomal invA and plasmid spvC genes. PCR with these two primers would produce either one amplicon (from the invA gene) or two amplicons (from the invA and spvC genes), depending on whether or not the Salmonella bacteria contained a virulence plasmid. The fecal sample was diluted 10- to 20-fold into gram-negative enrichment broth and incubated to eliminate inhibitory compounds and also to allow selective enrichment of the bacteria. One or two amplicons were obtained, the expected result if Salmonella bacteria were present. The detection limit of this PCR was about 200 bacteria per reaction mixture. The primers were specific, as no amplification products were obtained with 18 species and 22 isolates of non-Salmonella bacteria tested which could be present in the feces or cause contamination. In contrast, when 23 commonly seen Salmonella serovars (38 isolates) were tested, all were shown to carry the invA gene and seven concomitantly harbored the spvC gene of the virulence plasmid. This assay was applied to the diagnosis of Salmonella enteritis in 57 children who were suffering from mucoid and/or bloody diarrhea. Of the 57 children, 38 were PCR positive and 22 were culture positive. There were two culture-positive samples that were not detected by PCR. Thus, this PCR assay showed an efficiency of 95% (38 of 40), which is much higher than the 60% (24 of 40) by culture alone. Not only is this method more sensitive, rapid, and efficient but it will cause only an incremental increase in the cost of stool processing, since enrichment cultivation of fecal samples from diarrheal patients using gram-negative enrichment broth is a routine practice for identification in many diagnostic microbiology laboratories. This PCR method, therefore, has clinical application.

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Selected References

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