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Heterogeneity of Environmental, Retail, and Clinical Isolates of Vibrio vulnificus as Determined by Lipopolysaccharide-Specific Monoclonal Antibodies

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The opportunistic pathogen Vibrio vulnificus expresses lipopolysaccharide (LPS) antigens on its outer membrane surface. A serological typing system was developed for these antigens, utilizing the discriminatory recognition of monoclonal antibodies (MAb) by ELISA. MAb were used to recognize five unique types of LPS-associated antigens for examination of clinical, environmental, and retail isolates of V. vulnificus. The overall serotype profile of the clinical isolates was significantly different (P < 0.05) from that of the environmental and retail isolates. A higher percentage of clinical isolates were typable (61%) compared to the environmental isolates (41%) and retail isolates (44%). In particular, the percentage of serotype 1/5 among clinical isolates (33%), compared to that of environmental (9%) and retail (4%), was highly significant (P < 0.0001). Among the environmental Gulf Coast isolates, there were differences in the prevalence of serotypes 2 and 3 (P < 0.05), depending on whether isolates were obtained from Louisiana or Alabama harvest sites. There were no statistically significant differences between the serotype profiles of Gulf and Atlantic Coast retail isolates despite the absence of serotype 1/5 from the Atlantic Coast. While some serotype diversity was detected in V. vulnificus isolated during different seasons, from different geographic locations, and at retail versus at harvest, there was no apparent concordance between any of the serotype distributions obtained from oysters versus that isolated clinically. The heterogeneity of environmental isolates and relative homogeneity among clinical isolates suggest that human risk may not be predicted on quantitative exposure alone.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803, USA 2: Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528, US 3: Division of Mathematics and Statistics, Food and Drug Administration, Washington, D.C, USA 4: U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA, NOS, Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA

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