Pseudomonas aeruginosa transmission is infrequent in New Zealand cystic fibrosis clinics
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Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important pathogen in cystic fibrosis (CF). Although most patients harbour unique P. aeruginosa isolates, some clinics report patients sharing common strains. The overall importance of person-to-person transmission in P. aeruginosa acquisition and whether routine patient segregation is necessary remains uncertain. The present authors therefore investigated the extent of P. aeruginosa transmission in New Zealand CF clinics. New Zealand's seven major CF centres were assessed, combining epidemiological data with computer-assisted SalI DNA fingerprinting of 496 isolates from 102 patients. One cluster of related isolates was significantly more prevalent in the largest clinic than expected by chance. The seven patients with isolates belonging to this cluster had more contact with each other than the remaining patients attending this centre. No other convincing evidence of transmission was found in any of the other smaller clinics. Three P. aeruginosa strains believed to be transmissible between patients in Australian and British CF clinics are present in New Zealand, but there was no definite evidence they had spread. Pseudomonas aeruginosa transmission is currently infrequent in New Zealand cystic fibrosis clinics. This situation could change rapidly and ongoing surveillance is required. The current results confirm that computer-assisted SalI DNA fingerprinting is ideally suited for such surveillance.
European Respiratory Journal
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