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Infect Immun. Sep 1989; 57(9): 2751–2757.
PMCID: PMC313521

Determination of the epidemiology and transmission of nontypable Haemophilus influenzae in children with otitis media by comparison of total genomic DNA restriction fingerprints.


It is assumed that the causative bacteria in children suffering from otitis media reach the middle ear via the eustachian tube. The purpose of this investigation was to use endonuclease restriction of bacterial chromosomal DNA to compare isolates of nontypable (NT) Haemophilus influenzae obtained from the nasopharynx and from middle ear (ME) effusions of patients with otitis media. Strains of NT H. influenzae were isolated from the nasopharynx (NP) and affected ME from a group of 13 unrelated children with otitis media with effusion (OME). For 12 of these children, identical strains were isolated from the NP and ME in a first episode of OME. Each of these 12 sets differed from the other 11. Six of these children suffered from a second episode of OME with NT H. influenzae. Five of these children with recurrence again had identical NP and ME strains. These results suggest that at the time of an episode of OME, there is one predominant strain of NT H. influenzae that colonizes both the NP and ME. The strains of NT H. influenzae isolated from all six of the second episodes were different from strains from the first episode, indicating turnover of the predominant strain in the NT H. influenzae population between episodes. When we investigated three siblings with concurrent episodes of OME, we found that they shared several similar strains of NT H. influenzae, thereby demonstrating that within a family, transmission of NT H. influenzae from child to child is possible. These results from DNA fingerprinting were essentially identical when compared with results from outer membrane protein subtyping performed on the same set of strains. The analysis of endonuclease restriction patterns of total genomic DNA provides a sensitive measure of genetic dissimilarity between strains and represents an easily applicable method for epidemiological and transmission studies of bacterial infections associated with NT H. influenzae.

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Selected References

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