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J Clin Microbiol. 1999 Dec;37(12):3934-9.

vanA and vanB incorporate into an endemic ampicillin-resistant vancomycin-sensitive Enterococcus faecium strain: effect on interpretation of clonality.

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Department of Bacteriology and Immunology, Haartman Institute, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland. JUHANA.SUPPOLA@HELSINKI.FI


Clonal spread and horizontal transfer in the spread of vancomycin resistance genes were investigated. Multiplex PCR, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), hybridization of enterococcal plasmids with the vanA and vanB probes, and sequencing of a fragment of vanB were used in the analysis. Before May 1996, 12 vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) isolates were found in Finland. Between May 1996 and October 1997, 156 VRE isolates were found in the Helsinki area. Between December 1997 and April 1998, fecal samples from 359 patients were cultured for VRE. One new case of colonization with VRE was found. During the outbreak period, 88% (137 of 155) of the VRE isolates belonged to two strains (VRE types I and II), as determined by PFGE. Each VRE type I isolate possessed vanB, and five isolates also had vanA. Of the 34 VRE type II isolates, 27 possessed vanA and 7 possessed vanB. Fifteen of 21 (71%) ampicillin-resistant, vancomycin-sensitive E. faecium (VSE) isolates found during and after the outbreak period in one ward were also of type II. Two VSE type II isolates were found in the hospital before the outbreak in 1995. By PFGE, the three groups (vanA, vanB, or no van gene) of type II shared the same band differences with the main type of VRE type II with vanA. None of the differences was specific to or determinative for any of the groups. Our material suggests that vanA and vanB incorporate into an endemic ampicillin-resistant VSE strain.

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