Evidence of Clonal Dissemination of Multidrug-Resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae in Hong Kong


American Society for Microbiology


The relationship between the phenotypic and genotypic characteristics of 105 penicillin-intermediate or -resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates saved during 1994 to 1997 at the Prince of Wales Hospital and Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, Hong Kong, was studied. The pbp genes for penicillin-binding proteins 1a, 2b, and 2x for each isolate were amplified by PCR, and the products were digested with restriction enzymes HinfI and AluI. A combination of the pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profiles, pbp fingerprints, and phenotypic characteristics of capsular types and antibiograms enabled these isolates to be divided into four major groups. Seventy-four percent (78 of 105) of the strains, belonging to serotypes 23F, 19F, and 14, showed indistinguishable pbp fingerprint patterns (group A1, 1-1-1, 1-1-1), with PFGE patterns belonging to group A and its subtypes, suggesting that these strains were closely related. Eighty-three percent (65 of 78) of these isolates were also resistant to tetracycline, erythromycin, chloramphenicol, and trimethoprim. The type 23F isolates were indistinguishable from representative strains of the Spanish 23F clone by these molecular methods, indicating that these strains may be variants of the Spanish 23F clone. Serotype 6B accounted for 19% (20 of 105) of the isolates with reduced penicillin susceptibility and was made up of variants belonging to four different pbp fingerprint groups with the PFGE pattern group B, the predominant group being indistinguishable from that of the Spanish 6B clone. Other PFGE and fingerprint groups were mainly obtained from penicillin-susceptible strains of various serotypes. The results suggest that the rapid emergence of drug-resistant S. pneumoniae in Hong Kong has been due to the rapid dissemination of several successful clones.

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