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J Clin Microbiol. 1994 Apr;32(4):924-30.

Linkage analysis of geographic and clinical clusters in Pseudomonas cepacia infections by multilocus enzyme electrophoresis and ribotyping.

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Department of Microbiology, Victoria General Hospital, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Multilocus enzyme electrophoresis and ribotyping were used to characterize 83 strains of Pseudomonas cepacia, mostly isolated from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, although a number of isolates from non-CF nosocomial infections and reference environmental strains were represented. Twenty enzyme electrophoretic types (ETs) were determined; of these, one clone (ET12) was associated with six of nine ribotypes (RTs) said to be geographically representative of the United Kingdom and all of the Ontario (Canada) isolates from CF patients. This clone was not associated with nosocomial infections or environmental strains and was never found in CF isolates from British Columbia or Nova Scotia, Canada, or a center in the eastern United States. Individual isolate EcoRI RT signatures did not cluster geographically as did the ET signatures by clonal analysis. Frequently RTs occurred in more than a single ET. Known point source focal nosocomial outbreaks were typified by single ETs and stable RTs. Dendrographic analysis of the strains grouped those strains from CF patients, nosocomial outbreaks, and environmental sources into separate ET families, and diversity analysis indicated that, with the exception of ET17, CF isolates clustered in unique and closely related ETs different from those from nosocomial and environmental sources. This study has also shown the potential of multilocus enzyme electrophoresis to monitor the intercontinental spread of P. cepacia strains in CF patients, and this may have a significant impact on plans for CF patient summer camps and design of infection control practices. Whether the intercontinental ET12 clone, which predominates in the United Kingdom and the province of Ontario, linked by summer camp acquisition, has increased virulence for CF patients remains to be established.

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