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Genotyping of Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae isolated from paired middle ear fluid and nasopharynx by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis.

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Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Wakayama Medical University, Kimiidera 811-1, Wakayama-shi, Wakayama, Japan.


Twenty-eight isolates of Streptococcus pneumoniae and 30 isolates of Haemophilus influenzae from paired nasopharynx and middle ear fluids of 21 children with acute otitis media (AOM) were evaluated to determine genotypes by polymerase chain reaction and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Among the 28 isolates of S. pneumonaie, 21 isolates (75.0%) possessed mutations in the pbp1a,pbp2x, and pbp2b genes, and 7 isolates (25%) had mutations in the pbp2x gene. Nineteen isolates (67.9%) expressed the mefE gene, and 5 isolates (17.9%) possessed the ermB gene. Among the 30 isolates of H. influenzae, 5 isolates (16.7%) had mutations in pbp3 genes, 3 isolates (10.0%) produced beta-lactamase, and 2 (6.7%) isolates possessed mutations both in the pbp3 gene and the beta-lactamase gene. Ten out of the 14 pairs (71.4%) of the restriction fragment patterns of S. pneumoniae from paired nasopharynx and middle ear fluids were indistinguishable following PFGE analysis. The same patterns were identified among 5 children of unrelated families. The restriction fragment patterns of H. influenzae isolated by PFGE were also indistinguishable in 13 out of the 15 pairs (86.7%) of nasopharynx and middle ear fluids. The genetic similarity between nasopharyngeal and middle ear isolates suggests that the causative bacteria migrate from the nasopharynx into the middle ear cavity via the Eustachian tube. Some resistant strains might be prevalent. In children with AOM, the nasopharynx could have been colonized by a virulent strain of bacteria that replaced the benign, commensal bacteria and then progressed to the middle ear, where they caused AOM.

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