Survivability and molecular variation inVibrio choleraefrom epidemic sites in China

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The survival behaviour of Vibrio cholerae in cholera epidemics, together with its attributes of virulence-associated genes and molecular fingerprints, are significant for managing cholera epidemics. Here, we selected five strains representative of V. cholerae O1 and O139 involved in cholera events, examined their survival capacity in large volumes of water sampled from epidemic sites of a 2005 cholera outbreak, and determined virulence-associated genes and molecular subtype changes of the surviving isolates recovered. The five strains exhibited different survival capacities varying from 17 to 38 days. The virulence-associated genes of the surviving isolates remained unchanged, while their pulsotypes underwent slight variation. In particular, one waterway-isolated strain maintained virulence-associated genes and evolved to share the same pulsotype as patient strains, highlighting its role in the cholera outbreak. The strong survival capacity and molecular attributes of V. cholerae might account for its persistence in environmental waters and the long duration of the cholera outbreak, allowing effective control measures.

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