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Microbiol Spectr. 2018 Nov;6(6). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.AME-0004-2018.

Laboratory Methods in Molecular Epidemiology: Bacterial Infections.

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1
Division of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.

Abstract

In infectious disease epidemiology, the laboratory plays a critical role in diagnosis, outbreak investigations, surveillance, and characterizing biologic properties of microbes associated with their transmissibility, resistance to anti-infectives, and pathogenesis. The laboratory can inform and refine epidemiologic study design and data analyses. In public health, the laboratory functions to assess effect of an intervention. In addition to research laboratories, the new-generation molecular microbiology technology has been adapted into clinical and public health laboratories to simplify, accelerate, and make precise detection and identification of infectious disease pathogens. This technology is also being applied to subtype microbes to conduct investigations that advance our knowledge of epidemiology of old and emerging infectious diseases. Because of the recent explosive progress in molecular microbiology technology and the vast amount of data generated from the applications of this technology, this Microbiology Spectrum Curated Collection: Advances in Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases describes these methods separately for bacteria, viruses, and parasites. This review discusses past and current advancements made in laboratory methods used to conduct epidemiologic studies of bacterial infections. It describes methods used to subtype bacterial organisms based on molecular microbiology techniques, following a discussion on what is meant by bacterial "species" and "clones." Discussions on past and new genotyping tests applied to epidemiologic investigations focus on tests that compare electrophoretic band patterns, hybridization matrices, and nucleic acid sequences. Applications of these genotyping tests to address epidemiologic issues are detailed elsewhere in other reviews of this series. *This article is part of a curated collection.

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