A questionnaire was sent to the 48 national typing centres for and 31 replies were received. Methods of phage typing varied and molecular methods were not universally available, although pulsed-field gel electrophoresis was offered by 13 centres. Results for a quality control phage typing exercise were received from 25 centres. Increased standardisation of methods and definitions are indicated. Differences from the consensus patterns were mainly due to typing at an inappropriate dilution of phage, but five strains caused difficulties in many centres. Overall reproducibility was good. Phage typing remains a cost-effective method for epidemiological studies, particularly on a large scale. The strains selected for the quality control exercise included many strains suitable for controlling molecular methods as well as testing phage typing. Molecular methods help in the validation of the conclusions which may be drawn from phage typing.


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