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J Clin Microbiol. 1994 Oct;32(10):2425-33.

Use of various genetic markers in differentiation of Mycobacterium bovis strains from animals and humans and for studying epidemiology of bovine tuberculosis.

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Laboratory for Bacteriology and Antimicrobial Agents, National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


One hundred fifty-three Mycobacterium bovis strains from cattle, various animal species from zoos and wild parks, and humans were analyzed for three different genetic markers for use in the epidemiology of bovine tuberculosis. M. bovis strains isolated from cattle were found to carry a single IS6110 element, whereas the majority of strains from other animals such as antelopes, monkeys, and seals harbored multiple IS6110 elements, suggesting that the reservoirs in cattle and wild animals are separated. Because the single IS6110 element in cattle strains is located at the same chromosomal position, strain differentiation by insertion sequence fingerprinting was hampered. Therefore, we investigated the usefulness of the direct repeat and polymorphic GC-rich repeat elements for strain differentiation. Both markers allowed sufficient strain discrimination for epidemiological purposes. Evidence is presented that in Argentina, most human M. bovis infections are due to transmission from cattle, whereas M. bovis infections among humans in the Netherlands are mainly contracted from animals other than cattle. Various outbreaks of M. bovis among animals and humans are described, including a small one which likely involved transmission from human to human.

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