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J Hosp Infect. 1991 Apr;17(4):255-69.

Pulsed field gel electrophoresis as a new epidemiological tool for monitoring methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in an intensive care unit.

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Institut de Bactériologie, Faculté de Médecine, Strasbourg, France.


Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) of bacterial DNA was used in a 1-month epidemiological study of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a 15-bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Patient and hospital staff carriage as well as distribution of MRSA in the ICU environment were investigated, and a total of 3802 samples produced 175 isolates. The stability and the reproducibility of the PFGE method were satisfactory. Moreover, the plasmid content of the strains so far examined had no influence on the PFGE profiles of the MRSA strains. The polymorphic profiles observed also account for the use of this method as an epidemiological tool for investigating MRSA. Among 30 patients who stayed more than 4 days in the unit, PFGE analysis showed 11 episodes of colonization in nine patients, whereas lysotyping and plasmid DNA analysis demonstrated only eight and seven such episodes in the same patients, respectively. The combination of PFGE with lysotyping and plasmid analysis may provide a greater discriminatory capacity between MRSA isolates.

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