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Molecular epidemiology in a cluster of cases of postoperative Pseudomonas aeruginosa endophthalmitis.

Between September and October 1994 we observed three cases of Pseudomonas aeruginosa endophthalmitis in a single ophthalmology center. Endophthalmitis progressed rapidly following surgical intervention, and the three patients completely lost vision in the affected eye. Microbiological surveillance culture specimens were obtained from environmental sites, the operating team, intraocular lenses, irrigation fluids, and surgical equipment. P. aeruginosa was isolated from the internal tubing system of automated cataract surgical equipment. The strains of P. aeruginosa cultured from vitreous and anterior chamber specimens of case patients and from the surgical equipment were analyzed with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Genomic DNA typing of these isolates showed an identical banding pattern on ethidium bromide-stained gels. We believe that this is the first reported outbreak of P. aeruginosa endophthalmitis traced to automated surgical equipment. Genomic DNA typing emerged as a practical and reliable option for the epidemiological investigation of the outbreak.

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