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Infect Genet Evol. 2002 Dec;2(2):145-8.

Poor value of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis to investigate long-term scale epidemiology of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

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Division Autonome de Médecine Préventive Hospitalière, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) is widely used for epidemic investigations of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In the present study, we evaluated its use in a long-term epidemiological setting (years to few decades, country to continent level). The clustering obtained from PFGE patterns after SmaI digestion of the DNA of 20 strains was compared to that obtained using a phylogenetic typing method (multiprimer RAPD). The results showed that the analysis of small PFGE bands (10-85kb) correlates better with multiprimer RAPD than the analysis of large PFGE bands (>85-700kb), suggesting that the analysis of small bands would be more suitable for the investigation of long-term epidemiological setting. However, given the technical difficulties to obtain a good resolution of these bands and the putative presence of plasmids among them, PFGE does not appear to be a method of choice for the long-term epidemiology analysis of MRSA.

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