Australian multicentre comparison of subtyping methods for the investigation of Campy lobacter infection

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In order to identify subtyping methods able to contribute to the surveillance or investigation of Australian Campylobacter infection, six genotypic and three phenotypic subtyping methods were evaluated on a collection of 84 clinical isolates collected over a 30-month period from one region in Australia. The aim was to compare the logistics of various subtyping methods and examine their ability to assist in finding outbreaks or common sources of sporadic infection. The genotypic subtyping methods used were sequencing of the short variable region of the flaA gene, two methods using restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) of the flaA gene using either DdeI or EcoRI with PstI, automated ribotyping, pulsed field gel electrophoresis and multilocus sequence typing. The phenotypic methods employed included Laboratory of Enteric Pathogens serotyping, Lior biotyping and antibiotic resistotyping. The level of agreement between subtyping results was determined. Phenotypic methods showed little agreement whereas genotypic typing methods showed a high level of agreement. Using the premise that five of the six genotypic typing methods were in agreement 15 genotypic groupings were identified. Sequencing of the short variable region of the flaA gene, RFLP of the flaA gene or automated ribotyping in conjunction with multilocus sequence typing best identified genotypic groupings. An alternative combination of RFLP of the flaA gene followed by ribotyping was equally satisfactory. RFLP of the flaA gene appeared to be suitable as a preliminary typing method based on ease of operation, equipment availability and cost.

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