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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2004 Feb;10(2):156-62.

Integrons as tools for epidemiological studies.

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Center for Experimental Research, Education and Research Institute, Hospital Albert Einstein, São Paulo, Brazil.


The integron content of Gram-negative strains implicated in three distinct episodes of suspected cross-infection among inpatients was investigated and compared with ribotyping. In the first episode, ribotyping identified a strain of Acinetobacter, isolated over a 3-month period, responsible for an outbreak associated with the use of mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit (ICU). The second episode concerned simultaneous isolations of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Serratia marcescens from 13 bronchoscopy patients. In these two episodes, results obtained by analysis of integron content and ribotyping were in agreement and correctly identified the epidemiologically related strains. In the third episode, isolates of Enterobacter cloacae were collected from patients in the neonatal ICU over a 3-month period. Although several isolates belonged to the same ribotype, cross-infection could not always be confirmed when the integron content was analysed. Integron detection can be considered a useful tool for studying molecular epidemiology in hospital environments, facilitating the quick detection of possible cross-infection cases, especially in critical wards such as the ICU.

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