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Commun Dis Intell Q Rep. 2003;27 Suppl:S103-10.

Polymerase chain reaction screening for integrons can be used to complement resistance surveillance programs.

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Virology Division, Department of Microbiology, SEALS, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, New South Wales.


Integrons have been recognised as important contributors to the acquisition and dissemination of antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative bacteria. In a collection of 19 multi-antibiotic resistant Gram-negative clinical isolates, 47 per cent (9/19) of strains were found to contain one or more integron, using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based screening method. Resistance gene cassettes within the integrons were amplified, sequenced and characterised. Antibiotic susceptibility testing demonstrated that resistance phenotypes correlated with the resistance conferred by gene cassettes identified. PCR-screening for integrons and gene cassettes provides a rapid technique for the identification of genetic determinants of resistance in Gram-negative bacteria. Such screening could assist in guiding treatment regimens and complement existing antibiotic resistance surveillance programs by providing information on molecular mechanisms of both resistance and resistance dissemination.

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