Identification of melioidosis outbreak by multilocus variable number tandem repeat analysis

Bart J. Currie, Asha Haslem, Talima R Pearson, Heidie Hornstra, Benjamin Leadem, Mark Mayo, Daniel Gal, Linda Ward, Daniel Godoy, Brian G. Spratt, Paul S Keim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-174
Number of pages6
JournalEmerging Infectious Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Epidemiology

Cite this

Currie, B. J., Haslem, A., Pearson, T. R., Hornstra, H., Leadem, B., Mayo, M., Gal, D., Ward, L., Godoy, D., Spratt, B. G., & Keim, P. S. (2009). Identification of melioidosis outbreak by multilocus variable number tandem repeat analysis. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 15(2), 169-174.