Bacteriophage typing is currently the recognised methodology for the typing of methicillin-resistant (MRSA) in the UK. Bacteriophage typing is less discriminatory and does not type all isolates compared with some molecular methods for typing MRSA. Chromosomal genotyping by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) is increasingly recognised as an improved method for typing MRSA, providing increased discrimination and typability. In this study the results of a comparison of bacteriophage typing and PFGE typing and subtyping are presented for a large collection of isolates from the North-West of England. Isolates belonging to the most frequently isolated epidemic methicillin-resistant (EMRSA) bacteriophage types 15 and 16 were typed by PFGE with further discrimination of common PFGE types possible into a number of subtypes. These results for a large collection of isolates demonstrate the improved typing of MRSA with PFGE. The widespread acceptance of PFGE for typing MRSA isolates has been hampered by the lack of standardised methodologies. Recently, a standardised PFGE strain typing system, known as the GenePath system has become available. The results of an inter-laboratory comparison of PFGE typing for a collection of isolates demonstrated good reproducibility with this system.


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