Objective To evaluate a polymerase chain reaction assay for identification of Campylobacter fetus and differentiation of the defined subspecies. Design Characterisation of bacterial strains by traditional phenotyping, polymerase chain reaction, a probabilistic identification scheme and macrorestriction profiling using pulsed field gel electrophoresis. Procedure The results of identification of 99 bacterial strains as determined by conventional phenotyping or by polymerase chain reaction were compared. Two of these were type strains of C fetus subsp fetus and C fetus subsp venerealis; the remaining strains were field isolates putatively identified as C fetus. In cases where the subspecies identity was disputed, isolates were identified by means of a probabilistic identification scheme and by macrorestriction profiling. Results The agreement between strain identities initially suggested by traditional phenotypic methods and the PCR assay was found to be 80.8%. The polymerase chain reaction proved to be a reliable technique for the species and subspecies identification of C fetus; equivocal results were obtained in only two instances. Initial misidentifications by conventional phenotyping methods were attributed to methodological differences used in various laboratories. Conclusion Our results indicate that misidentification of C fetus in routine diagnostic laboratories may be relatively common. The PCR assay evaluated gave rapid and reproducible results and is thus a valuable adjunctive method for the identification of C fetus and subsequent subspecies differentiation.
Australian Veterinary Journal, 1997, Vol 75, Issue 11, p. 827-831