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To find reasons for the recent decline of Vibrio cholerae O139 Bengal cholera in Bangladesh, phenotypic and genotypic changes in O139 isolates obtained from patients with cholera from 1993 to 1996 were studied. The isolates were tested for the presence of ctx and tcpA genes, hemagglutinin/protease (HA/P), capsule, D-mannose-sensitive hemagglutinin (MSHA), L-fucose-sensitive hemagglutinin (FSHA), tube test (tube) and CAMP test (CAMP) hemolytic activities, resistance to 2,4-diamino-6,7-diisopropyl pteridine (O/129) and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX), and genotype by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). All isolates possessed ctx and tcpA genes, HA/P, and a capsule. Most isolates were negative for FSHA, but although the majority of the isolates were positive for MSHA, no discernible trend in the activity was found during the study period. All early isolates were CAMP hemolysin positive and resistant to the vibriostatic compound O/129 and TMP-SMX, the two properties that could be used for the presumptive diagnosis of O139 cholera. However, subsequently, isolates that were CAMP hemolysin negative and susceptible to TMP-SMX and O/129 were increasingly encountered, with all the 1996 isolates being so, which suggested that these properties can no longer be used for the presumptive diagnosis of O139 cholera. V. cholerae O139 isolates that were CAMP hemolysin positive and resistant to O/129 and TMP-SMX produced a disease of greater severity than that caused by the CAMP hemolysin-negative and susceptible isolates on the basis of the lengths of stay of the hospitalized patients. The study period witnessed the evolution of four different genotypes by PFGE. All of these data suggested that the V. cholerae O139 isolates have undergone changes in some properties. However, how these changes influenced their prevalence relative to that of V. cholerae O1 in human infection is not clear. Studies of the environmental factors will provide the key for an understanding of the relative abundance of these vibrios.



Journal of clinical microbiology

Publication Date





2588 - 2592


International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka.


Humans, Vibrio cholerae, Cholera, Sulfamethoxazole, Trimethoprim, Pteridines, Bacterial Capsules, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field, Genotype, Phenotype, Genes, Bacterial, Adult, Bangladesh, Female, Male, Hemolysin Proteins