Biotyping, antibiograms, bacteriophage typing, plasmid profile analysis and SDS-PAGE protein profiles were used to determine the relatedness of 44 and four isolates from 14 patients. A selection of these were further characterised by ribotyping. Biotyping classified the isolates into three major groups but was considered a poor strain marker. Although antibiograms classified the isolates into 20 groups, some changes in the susceptibility patterns of related isolates from a single patient were demonstrated. Bacteriophage typing was the least discriminatory of the methods used. SDS-PAGE gave highly related patterns for the majority of isolates. Plasmid profile analysis and ribotyping, with a minimum of two restriction endonucleases, were the most discriminatory methods for typing . Nonetheless, some isolates from the same patient - probably representing a single strain - varied in plasmid profile indicating plasmid instability. One of six related isolates from a single patient lacked two bands from the ribotyping pattern of the other isolates. Although no single method proved entirely satisfactory on all occasions, the combination of typing methods was sufficient to provide evidence of the relatedness of isolates from individual patients.


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