The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to amplify a 522-bp region of the adenylate cyclase toxin () gene of As few as 100cfu from a suspension of could be detected by this procedure when the amplified PCR product was detected by ethidium bromide staining of agarose gels. However, simulated clinical specimens, prepared from swabs impregnated with known numbers of cells, only yielded a positive reaction with ≥10cfu. Hybridisation of a Southern blot of the PCR products from the swab samples with a -specific probe gave a positive reaction with as few as 8 cfu, but the hybridisation signal was uniformly weak with fewer than 10cfu. Nevertheless, three of 13 nasopharyngeal swabs, taken from suspected clinically defined cases of whooping cough and stored frozen for up to 18 months, gave a positive PCR reaction.


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