Isolation of Vibrio cholerae O1 strains similar to pre-seventh pandemic El Tor strains during an outbreak of gastrointestinal disease in an island resort in Fiji

G Balakrish Nair, Ashrafus Safa, N A Bhuiyan, Suraia Nusrin, Denise Murphy, Carolyn Nicol, Mary Valcanis, Steven Iddings, Ili Kubuabola, Hassan Vally
Journal of Medical Microbiology 2006, 55: 1559-62
Five strains of Vibrio cholerae O1, one each from an Australian and a New Zealand tourist with gastrointestinal illness returning from an island resort in Fiji and the remaining three from water sources located in the same resort, were extensively characterized. Conventional phenotypic traits that are used for biotyping of O1 V. cholerae categorized all five strains as belonging to the El Tor biotype. Genetic screening of 11 regions that are associated with virulence in V. cholerae showed variable results. The absence of genes comprising Vibrio seventh pandemic island-I (VSP-I) and VSP-II in all the strains indicated that these strains were very similar to the pre-seventh pandemic V. cholerae O1 El Tor strains. The ctxAB genes were absent in all strains whereas orfU and zot were present in four strains, indicating that the strains were non-toxigenic. Four strains carried a truncated CTX prophage. Although epidemiological and molecular studies suggested that these strains did not cause cholera amongst tourists at the resort, their similarity to pre-seventh pandemic strains, their prior association with gastrointestinal illness and their presence in the island resort setting warrant more attention.

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