The analysis of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene patterns (ribotyping) has been used to differentiate strains within bacterial species. We used this method to investigate two outbreaks of campylobacter enteritis that occurred recently in Melbourne, Australia. The first outbreak involved seven patients although isolates from only five patients were available for typing. The second outbreak consisted of three patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) on the same ward of a hospital. Analysis of the rRNA gene patterns revealed identical patterns for the isolates from five patients in the first outbreak, suggesting that these isolates were from the same source. However, ribotyping of the four isolates from the second outbreak showed three distinct ribotypes indicative of contact with unrelated sources. This study demonstrated that ribotyping is a useful, reliable and convenient typing scheme for epidemiological purposes.


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