Strengthening the laboratory diagnosis of pathogenic Corynebacterium species in the Vaccine era

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Over the last three decades, successful implementation of the diphtheria vaccination in the developed and developing countries has reduced the infections caused by the toxigenic strains of Corynebacterium diphtheriae, but a concomitant increase in the invasive infections due to the nontoxigenic strains was seen. In addition, the recent reports on the emergence of nontoxigenic toxin gene-bearing strains, having the potential to revert back to toxigenic form poses a significant threat to human beings. Besides infections caused by C. diphtheriae, the emergence of the respiratory, cutaneous and invasive infections by related pathogenic Corynebacterium species like C. ulcerans and C. pseudotuberculosis, complicate the diagnosis and management of infection. These observations together with the widespread prevalence of diphtheria in the vaccine era, necessitates the strengthening of the epidemiological surveillance and laboratory diagnosis of the pathogen. This review provides the overview of the advantages and limitations of different molecular methods and the role of MALDI-TOF in the laboratory diagnosis of Diphtheria. The contribution of next generation sequencing technology and different genotyping techniques in understanding the pathogenicity, transmission dynamics and epidemiology of the C. diphtheriae is discussed.

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