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Clinical epidemiology of cholera in Papua New Guinea

Cholera is a serious enteric disease resulting in profuse watery diarrhoea which leads to dehydration: it is fatal in around 60% of cases if untreated (but a comparatively low 2% of treated cases). Cholera has only recently become a problem in PNG: up until mid 2009 it had not been reported in this country. Since the first cases were detected in Morobe Province the disease has spread through coastal PNG. Cholera is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Due to the recent introduction of the disease, little is known about V. cholerae in PNG. By conducting detailed molecular analysis of clinical isolates we can learn more about the origins of the pathogen and its evolution within the country.

The study aims to use two molecular techniques: variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) and multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) to characterise clinical isolates of V. cholerae. Specifically we seek to determine the relatedness of PNG isolates to each other, and to other global isolates. This work is funded through a grant from the World Health Organization (PNG). The study commenced in early 2010, and was completed in 2011. It was carried out at IMR in Goroka, using samples from throughout the country.
The study is being conducted in collaboration with staff at Port Moresby General Hospital Pathology Laboratory.


Infection and Immunity



Dr William Pomat
Deputy Director - Science and Unit Head

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