Endemic melioidosis is caused by genetically diverse Burkholderia pseudomallei strains. However, clonal outbreaks (multiple cases caused by 1 strain) have occurred, such as from contaminated potable water. B. pseudomallei is designated a group B bioterrorism agent, which necessitates rapidly recognizing point-source outbreaks. Pulsed- field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) can identify genetically related isolates, but results take several days to obtain. We developed a simplified 4-locus multilocus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA-4) for rapid typing and compared results with PFGE and MLST for a large number of well-characterized B. pseudomallei isolates. MLVA-4 compared favorably with MLST and PFGE for the same isolates; it discriminated between 65 multilocus sequence types and showed relatedness between epidemiologically linked isolates from outbreak clusters and between isolates from individual patients. MLVA-4 can establish or refute that a clonal outbreak of melioidosis has occurred within 8 hours of receipt of bacterial strains.
Currie, B., Haslem, A., Pearson, T., Hornstra, H., Leadem, B., Mayo, M., ... Keim, P. S. (2009). Identification of Melioidosis Outbreak by Multilocus Variable Number Tandem Repeat Analysis. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 15(2), 169-174. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid1502.081036