Pseudomonas aeruginosa cross-colonization and persistence in patients with cystic fibrosis. Use of a DNA probe

Epidemiol Infect. 1989 Apr;102(2):205-14. doi: 10.1017/s0950268800029873.


To investigate cross-colonization with and persistence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis (CF), 181 isolates from 76 CF patients were typed using a P. aeruginosa-specific DNA probe. Whereas sibling pairs predominantly harboured genotypically identical P. aeruginosa strains, all of the other patients harboured different strains. Seventy-nine per cent (22/31) of the infected CF patients harboured the same strains at the beginning and the end of a summer camp. A change of strains was seen in 10% (3/31) of the patients at the end of the camp. Forty-six per cent (6/13) of the patients who were apparently initially uninfected, acquired P. aeruginosa by the end of the period. Genotyping proved that strain change or acquisition was due to cross-colonization in four of nine cases. Very little P. aeruginosa was isolated from the inanimate environment. Persistence of P. aeruginosa after a temporary loss due to antibiotic therapy was seen in 12/16 paired patient strains before and after antibiotic therapy. Thus, suppression followed a flare-up seemed to occur in these patients rather than eradication and a new infection. When 35 patients were followed over a period of 6 months, 7 (20%) changed the strain in their sputum. Only one of 43 patients harboured two different P. aeruginosa strains simultaneously over a long period.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / analysis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • DNA Probes
  • Family Health
  • Genotype
  • Germany, West
  • Humans
  • Pseudomonas Infections / etiology
  • Pseudomonas Infections / transmission*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / isolation & purification
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / transmission*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • DNA Probes