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1.  Clusters of Multidrug-Resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis Cases, Europe 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2009;15(7):1052-1060.
These case investigations may help identify routes of transmission.
Molecular surveillance of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) was implemented in Europe as case reporting in 2005. For all new MDR TB cases detected from January 2003 through June 2007, countries reported case-based epidemiologic data and DNA fingerprint patterns of MDR TB strains when available. International clusters were detected and analyzed. From 2003 through mid-2007 in Europe, 2,494 cases of MDR TB were reported from 24 European countries. Epidemiologic and molecular data were linked for 593 (39%) cases, and 672 insertion sequence 6110 DNA fingerprint patterns were reported from 19 countries. Of these patterns, 288 (43%) belonged to 18 European clusters; 7 clusters (242/288 cases, 84%) were characterized by strains of the Beijing genotype family, including the largest cluster (175/288 cases, 61%). Both clustering and the Beijing genotype were associated with strains originating in eastern European countries. Molecular cluster detection contributes to identification of transmission profile, risk factors, and control measures.
PMCID: PMC2744220  PMID: 19624920
MDR TB; cluster; European surveillance; Beijing genotype; research
2.  Standardization and Interlaboratory Reproducibility Assessment of Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis-Generated Fingerprints of Acinetobacter baumannii 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(9):4328-4335.
A standard procedure for pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) of macrorestriction fragments of Acinetobacter baumannii was set up and validated for its interlaboratory reproducibility and its potential for use in the construction of an Internet-based database for international monitoring of epidemic strains. The PFGE fingerprints of strains were generated at three different laboratories with ApaI as the restriction enzyme and by a rigorously standardized procedure. The results were analyzed at the respective laboratories and also centrally at a national reference institute. In the first phase of the study, 20 A. baumannii strains, including 3 isolates each from three well-characterized hospital outbreaks and 11 sporadic strains, were distributed blindly to the participating laboratories. The local groupings of the isolates in each participating laboratory were identical and allowed the identification of the epidemiologically related isolates as belonging to three clusters and identified all unrelated strains as distinct. Central pattern analysis by using the band-based Dice coefficient and the unweighted pair group method with mathematical averaging as the clustering algorithm showed 95% matching of the outbreak strains processed at each local laboratory and 87% matching of the corresponding strains if they were processed at different laboratories. In the second phase of the study, 30 A. baumannii isolates representing 10 hospital outbreaks from different parts of Europe (3 isolates per outbreak) were blindly distributed to the three laboratories, so that each laboratory investigated 10 epidemiologically independent outbreak isolates. Central computer-assisted cluster analysis correctly identified the isolates according to their corresponding outbreak at an 87% clustering threshold. In conclusion, the standard procedure enabled us to generate PFGE fingerprints of epidemiologically related A. baumannii strains at different locations with sufficient interlaboratory reproducibility to set up an electronic database to monitor the geographic spread of epidemic strains.
PMCID: PMC1234071  PMID: 16145073
3.  Early Identification of Common-Source Foodborne Virus Outbreaks in Europe 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2003;9(9):1136-1142.
The importance of foodborne viral infections is increasingly recognized. Food handlers can transmit infection during preparation or serving; fruit and vegetables may be contaminated by fecally contaminated water used for growing or washing. And modern practices of the food industry mean that a contaminated food item is not limited to national distribution. International outbreaks do occur, but little data are available about the incidence of such events and the food items associated with the highest risks. We developed a combined research and surveillance program for enteric viruses involving 12 laboratories in 9 European countries. This project aims to gain insight into the epidemiology of enteric viruses in Europe and the role of food in transmission by harmonizing (i.e., assessing the comparability of data through studies of molecular detection techniques) and enhancing epidemiologic surveillance. We describe the setup and preliminary results of our system, which uses a Web-accessible central database to track viruses and provides the foundation for an early warning system of foodborne and other common-source outbreaks.
PMCID: PMC3016772  PMID: 14519252
outbreaks; foodborne virus; calicivirus; molecular epidemiology; gastroenteritis
4.  Snapshot of Moving and Expanding Clones of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Their Global Distribution Assessed by Spoligotyping in an International Study†  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(5):1963-1970.
The present update on the global distribution of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex spoligotypes provides both the octal and binary descriptions of the spoligotypes for M. tuberculosis complex, including Mycobacterium bovis, from >90 countries (13,008 patterns grouped into 813 shared types containing 11,708 isolates and 1,300 orphan patterns). A number of potential indices were developed to summarize the information on the biogeographical specificity of a given shared type, as well as its geographical spreading (matching code and spreading index, respectively). To facilitate the analysis of hundreds of spoligotypes each made up of a binary succession of 43 bits of information, a number of major and minor visual rules were also defined. A total of six major rules (A to F) with the precise description of the extra missing spacers (minor rules) were used to define 36 major clades (or families) of M. tuberculosis. Some major clades identified were the East African-Indian (EAI) clade, the Beijing clade, the Haarlem clade, the Latin American and Mediterranean (LAM) clade, the Central Asian (CAS) clade, a European clade of IS6110 low banders (X; highly prevalent in the United States and United Kingdom), and a widespread yet poorly defined clade (T). When the visual rules defined above were used for an automated labeling of the 813 shared types to define nine superfamilies of strains (Mycobacterium africanum, Beijing, M. bovis, EAI, CAS, T, Haarlem, X, and LAM), 96.9% of the shared types received a label, showing the potential for automated labeling of M. tuberculosis families in well-defined phylogeographical families. Intercontinental matches of shared types among eight continents and subcontinents (Africa, North America, Central America, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, and the Far East) are analyzed and discussed.
PMCID: PMC154710  PMID: 12734235
5.  Global Distribution of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Spoligotypes 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(11):1347-1349.
We present a short summary of recent observations on the global distribution of the major clades of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, the causative agent of tuberculosis. This global distribution was defined by data-mining of an international spoligotyping database, SpolDB3. This database contains 11,708 patterns from as many clinical isolates originating from more than 90 countries. The 11,708 spoligotypes were clustered into 813 shared types. A total of 1,300 orphan patterns (clinical isolates showing a unique spoligotype) were also detected.
PMCID: PMC2738532  PMID: 12453368
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; spoligotyping
6.  Genetic Heterogeneity in Mycobacterium tuberculosis Isolates Reflected in IS6110 Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Patterns as Low-Intensity Bands 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2000;38(12):4478-4484.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates with identical IS6110 restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) patterns are considered to originate from the same ancestral strain and thus to reflect ongoing transmission. In this study, we investigated 1,277 IS6110 RFLP patterns for the presence of multiple low-intensity bands (LIBs), which may indicate infections with multiple M. tuberculosis strains. We did not find any multiple LIBs, suggesting that multiple infections are rare in the Netherlands. However, we did observe a few LIBs in 94 patterns (7.4%) and examined the nature of this phenomenon. With single-colony cultures it was found that LIBs mostly represent mixed bacterial populations with slightly different RFLP patterns. Mixtures were expressed in RFLP patterns as LIBs when 10 to 30% of the DNA analyzed originated from a bacterial population with another RFLP pattern. Presumably, a part of the LIBs did not represent mixed bacterial populations, as in some clusters all strains exhibited LIBs in their RFLP patterns. The occurrence of LIBs was associated with increased age in patients. This may reflect either a gradual change of the bacterial population in the human body over time or IS6110-mediated genetic adaptation of M. tuberculosis to changes in the environmental conditions during the dormant state or reactivation thereafter.
PMCID: PMC87624  PMID: 11101583

Results 1-6 (6)