One hundred isolates of serotype Eimsbuettel from various human, animal and environmental sources in six countries were typed and shown to belong to five ribotypes, five biotypes and eight different ribotype/biotype groups, one of which, ribotype 3/biotype 5, was represented among isolates from all six countries. Most of the Eimsbuettel isolates from Scotland belonged to ribotype 1/biotype 3, which was the epidemic strain involved in a large outbreak centred in a Glasgow maternity hospital in 1986. That strain was also responsible for almost all the human infections that occurred in the west of Scotland in the years of this study. However, isolates from human cases in the east of Scotland belonged to either ribotype 2/biotype 1 or ribotype 3/biotype 5, groups not found in the west of Scotland. Representatives of all three ribotype/biotype groups causing human infection in Scotland were also found among isolates from poultry or poultry-associated materials. Plasmids were carried by only 14% of isolates and so provided little additional strain discrimination. However, plasmid analysis suggested that Eimsbuettel of ribotype 2/biotype 1 had the potential to enter the human food chain in the UK meat or bone meal, animal feed and poultry.


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