Development of multiplex PCR for detection of vancomycin resistant enterococci(VRE) and epidemiological application in Korea

  • Seo, Keun-seok (Department of Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University) ;
  • Song, Deok-jln (Roche Vitamins Korea Ltd.) ;
  • Gwyther, M.M. (Roche Vitamins Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd.) ;
  • Park, Yong-ho (Department of Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University)
  • Received : 1999.02.20
  • Published : 1999.04.01


Vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE) have emerged as an important nosocomial pathogen. Since 1989 the Center for Disease Control, United States, has reported a rapid increase in the incidence of enterococcal bacteremia and endocarditis infection by VRE. It was suggested that the use of avoparcin was associated with the appearance of VRE in animal husbandry. To date, several detection methods have been used based on conventional methods of culture and gene detection. However, these methods have some limitations such as time-consuming, laborious and additional differential needs. Therefore, In this study a multiplex PCR method was established to detect and differentiate resistance types of enterococci which specifically amplify the four van genes encoding vancomycin resistance elements. Using the method, we investigated the incidence rates and types of VRE from farms using or not using avoparcin. A total of 1091 animal fecal samples were collected from 70 pig and 32 poultry farms. A total of 425 of enterococci were isolated from samples. Of the 425 isolates, 11 of the them showed a pattern of high-level vancomycin resistance (MIC : $64{\sim}256{\mu}g/ml$) which was associated with the presence of the vanA or vanB gene. Fifty-seven isolates showed a pattern of low-level vancomycin resistance (MIC : $3{\sim}8{\mu}g/ml$) associated with the vanC-1 or vanC-2 gene. Interestingly, all isolates with high-level vancomycin resistance were from farms that have never used avoparcin. Moreover, the high-level VRE isolation rate in Korea (2.58%) was much lower than that of other countries (50% in England, 7% in Belgium) where avoparcin have been used. In conclusion, the multiplex PCR method established in this study could be applied for detection of VRE.