A total of 148 isolates from a major shrimp production area in Southern Thailand were examined by colony hybridisation for genes encoding heat-stable enterotoxin (NAG-ST) and cholera toxin (CT). Only non-O1 strains were found to harbour NAG-ST (14 of 146) whereas no strains hybridised with the CT probe. NAG-ST-positive non-O1 strains were isolated from shrimp farms situated close to urban areas. Five different O serogroups were found among NAG-ST positive non-O1 strains. Southern blot and restriction endonuclease analysis of NAG-ST-positive strains revealed a high degree of genetic divergence. A total of seven classes of enterotoxin gene patterns were found with dIII and RI restriction endonucleases. Enterotoxin gene patterns correlated with O-antigen expression in 84% of isolates tested. In combination with other molecular techniques Southern blot analysis with an NAG-ST oligonucleotide probe could be useful for studying the molecular epidemiology of non-O1 strains.


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