Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), because of the increased sensitivity it affords over other methods of bacterial genotyping, represents a potentially powerful tool for the characterisation of isolates from hospital infections. Genomic fingerprinting by PFGE was applied to all clinical isolates of obtained from blood during a 6month period (78 isolates, 58 patients) at the University of Michigan Medical Center. The rare-restriction patterns of these isolates, in contrast to those of isolates from the reference collection (ECOR), were not randomly distributed through the species. Four related clusters, which represented c. 21% of the blood isolates, were identified. Two of these genotypic clusters were also clustered temporally, their members all being isolated within the same 2-week period, while the other two clusters spanned the study period. These observations indicate in-hospital endemic vectors or the occurrence of specialised lineages that are capable of invading the bloodstream and exploiting in-hospital vectors, or both.


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