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Characterization of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in New Zealand using multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis

Abstract

Recently, multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) has been proposed as an alternative to pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) for characterization of Escherichia coli O157:H7. In this study we characterized 118 E. coli O157:H7 isolates from cases of gastrointestinal disease in New Zealand using XbaI PFGE profiles and a MLVA scheme that assessed variability in eight polymorphic loci. The 118 isolates characterized included all 80 E. coli O157:H7 referred to New Zealand's Enteric Reference Laboratory in 2006 and 29 phage-type 2 isolates from 2005. When applied to these isolates the discriminatory power of PFGE and MLVA was not significantly different. However, MLVA data may be more epidemiologically relevant as isolates from family clusters of disease had identical MLVA profiles, even when the XbaI PFGE profiles differed slightly. Furthermore, most isolates with indistinguishable XbaI PFGE profiles that did not appear to be epidemiologically related had distinct MLVA profiles.

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