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Int J Med Microbiol. 2013 Jul;303(5):277-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmm.2013.04.001. Epub 2013 Apr 11.

Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) for rapid identification of Salmonella spp. from agar and blood culture broth--an option for the tropics?

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Department of Tropical Medicine at the Bernhard-Nocht Institute, German Armed Forces Hospital of Hamburg, Germany.



Salmonella enterica is an important cause of diarrhea with the potential to cause systemic infection including sepsis, particularly in the tropics. Sepsis in particular requires quick and reliable identification to allow a rapid optimization of antibiotic therapy. We describe the establishment and evaluation of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) as a rapid and easy-to-perform molecular identification procedure from agar and blood culture broths.


Two newly developed FISH probes with specificity for Salmonella spp. were evaluated with 10 reference strains, 448 clinical isolates of Gram-negative bacteria from Germany and Ghana including 316 Salmonella spp. strains, and 39 environmental Salmonella spp. isolates from rivers and streams in Ghana. One FISH probe was further tested with 207 pre-incubated blood culture broths from Germany with Gram-negative rod-shaped bacteria in Gram stain.


Evaluation of the newly designed FISH probes demonstrated sensitivity of 99.2% and specificity of 98.4% for clinical isolates, sensitivity of 97.4% for environmental Salmonella spp. isolates, and sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 99.5% for blood culture materials.


FISH proved to be highly reliable for a rapid identification of Salmonella spp. directly from pre-incubated blood culture broths as well as after growth on agar. The inexpensive and easy-to-perform procedure is particularly suitable for resource-limited areas where more sophisticated procedures are not available.

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