Strains of spp. are often inagglutinable by O-specific antisera because of the copious capsule produced by most isolates. A competitive ELISA method based on the observation that bacterial supernates containing homologous O antigen specifically inhibited the reaction of type-specific antisera with purified LPS coated on ELISA plates was used to examine the O antigen of 82 isolates of different species and subspecies. The O antigens O1/2ab (19 isolates), O2ab (13 isolates), O2ac (11 isolates) and O3 (16 isolates) were found to account for > 70% of the O antigenic types. Overall, 65 (79%) of the strains could be assigned to a specific O serogroup. The method is suitable for examining the role of individual O antigens in systemic klebsiella infections such as nosocomial septicaemia and pneumonia.


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