Tuberculosis in the Caribbean: using spacer oligonucleotide typing to understand strain origin and transmission

Emerg Infect Dis. May-Jun 1999;5(3):404-14. doi: 10.3201/eid0503.990311.


We used direct repeat (DR)-based spacer oligonucleotide typing (spoligotyping) (in association with double-repetitive element polymerase chain reaction, IS6110-restriction fragment length polymorphism [RFLP], and sometimes DR-RFLP and polymorphic GC-rich sequence-RFLP) to detect epidemiologic links and transmission patterns of Mycobacterium tuberculosis on Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana. In more than a third of the 218 strains we typed from this region, clusters and isolates shared genetic identity, which suggests epidemiologic links. However, because of limited epidemiologic information, only 14.2% of the strains could be directly linked. When spoligotyping patterns shared by two or more isolates were pooled with 392 spoligotypes from other parts of the world, new matches were detected, which suggests imported transmission. Persisting foci of endemic disease and increased active transmission due to high population flux and HIV-coinfection may be linked to the recent reemergence of tuberculosis in the Caribbean. We also found that several distinct families of spoligotypes are overrepresented in this region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Typing Techniques*
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • French Guiana / epidemiology
  • Genetic Variation
  • Guadeloupe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Martinique / epidemiology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / classification*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Oligonucleotides / analysis
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology*
  • Tuberculosis / transmission


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Oligonucleotides