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J Clin Microbiol. 2007 Feb;45(2):306-12. Epub 2006 Nov 22.

Antibiotic-resistant invasive pneumococcal clones in Italy.

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  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine and Microbiology, Università Campus Biomedico, Rome, Italy.

Erratum in

  • J Clin Microbiol. 2007 Sep;45(9):3148.


A total of 105 multiple-antibiotic-resistant invasive pneumococcal isolates recovered in Italy from 2001 to 2003 were genetically characterized. Of these, 40 were penicillin-nonsusceptible (PNSSP) and 65 were penicillin-susceptible (PSSP) Streptococcus pneumoniae strains. Among the PNSSP isolates, 8 and 11 different restriction profiles were obtained for the pbp2b and pbp2x genes, respectively. Clonal groups were established on the basis of analysis of both pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) types and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Several international clones, such as Spain(23F)-1/ST81, Spain(6B)-2/ST90, Spain(9V)-3/ST156, and Sweden(15A)-25/ST63 [corrected] were identified among the PNSSP isolates. Other, smaller clones, such as the minor Spanish 19F clone/ST88 and Denmark(14)-32/ST230, were also found. Among the PSSP isolates, clones related to England(14)-9/ST9, Greece(6B)-22/ST273, and Portugal(19F)-21/ST177 were found. In addition, two large clones comprised nonvaccine serotypes. One, comprising serotype 3 isolates, corresponded to the clone Netherlands(3)-31/ST180; the other, comprising serotype 15B/C isolates, ST474, was not related to any previously described clone. Two small clusters related to the newly described clones Greece(21)-30/ST193 and Netherlands(15B)-37/ST199 included isolates with unrelated PFGE profiles. An unusual finding was the inability to obtain the MLST allelic profile for an isolate of serotype 19A, belonging to the Sweden(15A)-25/ST63 [corrected] clone, due to a large deletion of the xpt gene. Capsular switching was observed among both PNSSP and PSSP isolates and involved also serotypes not included in the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7), such as serotypes 15B/C and 19A. Since antibiotic-resistant nonvaccine serotype clones are present in Italy, continuous monitoring of pneumococcal epidemiology should be carried out in the PCV7 era.

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