As part of an epidemiological study of tuberculosis in Australia, 84 isolates of from patients were analysed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The isolates were genetically heterogeneous, with 66 different DNA banding patterns obtained following digestion of genomic DNA with and 53 patterns with . When the results were compared with those previously obtained in restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis (RFLP), in 87% of cases the results with were consistent with those obtained with insertion sequence IS6110 as a probe in RFLP. However, PFGE was able to differentiate four of eight isolates which were identical with IS6110 typing. The high polymorphism amongst strains and the high average age of the patients (51 years) suggested that most organisms were cultured from patients who had reactivation of existing infections. Isolates with identical DNA patterns were found in different states of Australia, but no one strain predominated in any area. This suggests that tuberculosis has been introduced into Australia from various sources.


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