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Clin Infect Dis. 1998 Jul;27(1):169-75.

Long-term laboratory contamination by Mycobacterium abscessus resulting in two pseudo-outbreaks: recognition with use of random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) polymerase chain reaction.

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Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA.


Beginning in 1993, an increase in clinical isolates of Mycobacterium abscessus was observed in a single hospital microbiology laboratory. This involved a cluster of four patients in June 1993 and five patients and a quality-control culture of distilled water in May 1994. Twenty-three M. abscessus isolates recovered between 1991 and 1996 were compared by random amplified polymorphic DNA polymerase chain reaction (RAPD-PCR). Sixteen of 21 clinical isolates recovered over a 6-year period and the distilled water isolate had identical RAPD-PCR patterns consistent with a single strain or clone. Only six of 15 patients had findings suggestive of clinical disease. Since the use of in-house-prepared distilled water was discontinued, no further laboratory contamination of clinical specimens has been observed. Molecular typing was the key to defining distilled water as the source of this pseudo-outbreak. Recognition of such outbreaks is important for prevention of unnecessary therapeutic and diagnostic interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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