Heterogeneity in the organization of the CTX genetic element in strains of Vibrio cholerae O139 Bengal isolated from Calcutta, India and Dhaka, Bangladesh and its possible link to the dissimilar incidence of O139 cholera in the two locales.
Basu A. Mukhopadhyay AK. Sharma C. Jyot J. Gupta N. Ghosh A. Bhattacharya SK. Takeda Y. Faruque AS. Albert MJ. Balakrish Nair G.
National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Beliaghata, Calcutta-700 010, India.
After a lapse of 33 months, Vibrio cholerae O139, the new serogroup associated with cholera, has re-emerged in Calcutta, India and has become the dominant serogroup causing cholera from September 1996. In neighbouring Bangladesh, V. cholerae O1 biotype El Tor continues to be the dominant cause of cholera with the O139 serogroup accounting for only a small proportion of cases. Comparison of the phenotypic traits of representative O139 strains from Calcutta and Dhaka isolated between December 1996 and April 1997 showed similar phenotypic traits with the exception that Dhaka O139 strains were susceptible to streptomycin whilst Calcutta O139 strains were resistant. The Dhaka and Calcutta O139 strains displayed identical ribotypes but showed remarkable differences in the structure and organization of the CTX genetic element. In the Dhaka O139 strains, two copies of the CTX element were arranged in tandem and this resembled the pattern displayed by the 1992 epidemic strains of O139. The Calcutta O139 strains, in contrast, carried three copies of the CTX genetic element arranged in tandem with the loss of a conserved BglII restriction site in the RS1 element and the appearance of a new HindIII site in the same region. While there may be other factors, it appears that the reorganization of the CTX genetic element in the Calcutta O139 strains may have contributed to the resurgence of this serogroup in Calcutta.