Predominance of a single genotype of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in regions of Southern Africa
SETTING: Zimbabwe and Zambia. OBJECTIVE: To determine the genetic diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains isolated from tuberculosis (TB) patients in Zimbabwe and Zambia. DESIGN: M. tuberculosis isolates cultured from TB patients presenting at referral hospitals in Zimbabwe and health care clinics in Zambia were characterised by IS6110 genotyping and/or spoligotyping using internationally standardised methods. Genotypic data were compared to those from Cape Town and the SpolDB3.0 database. RESULTS: A predominant group of strains could be identified among 116/246 (47.2%) Zimbabwean isolates by their characteristic IS6110-banding pattern and unique spoligotype signature, where spacers 21-24, 27-30 and 33-36 were deleted. Comparison with strains from Cape Town showed that they were closely related to a family of strains present in 2.3% of Cape Town patients. Comparison of the spoligotypes with those obtained from 114 isolates from Zambia showed that 74 (65%) of these isolates had the same spoligotype signature. Spoligotypes in the SpolDB3.0 database showed that this group of strains was rarely isolated in other parts of the world, but was commonly isolated in Southern Africa. CONCLUSION: A predominant group of strains infecting approximately half of the patients in the study are major contributors to the TB epidemic in this region. We have designated this group of strains the Southern Africa 1 (SAF1) family. © 2007 The Union.