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Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1998 Sep-Oct;93(5):581-5.

Molecular epidemiologic typing systems of bacterial pathogens: current issues and perspectives.

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Service de Microbiologie, Hôpital Erasme, Bruxelles, Belgium.


The epidemiologic typing of bacterial pathogens can be applied to answer a number of different questions: in case of outbreak, what is the extent and mode of transmission of epidemic clone(s)? In case of long-term surveillance, what is the prevalence over time and the geographic spread of epidemic and endemic clones in the population? A number of molecular typing methods can be used to classify bacteria based on genomic diversity into groups of closely-related isolates (presumed to arise from a common ancestor in the same chain of transmission) and divergent, epidemiologically-unrelated isolates (arising from independent sources of infection). Ribotyping, IS-RFLP fingerprinting, macrorestriction analysis of chromosomal DNA and PCR-fingerprinting using arbitrary sequence or repeat element primers are useful methods for outbreak investigations and regional surveillance. Library typing systems based on multilocus sequence-based analysis and strain-specific probe hybridization schemes are in development for the international surveillance of major pathogens like Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Accurate epidemiological interpretation of data obtained with molecular typing systems still requires additional research on the evolution rate of polymorphic loci in bacterial pathogens.

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