Epidemiology and Infection

Research Article

Epidemiology of Salmonella typhimurium: ribosomal DNA analysis of strains from human and animal sources

A. Nastasia1, C. Mamminaa1 and M. R. Villafratea1

a1 Department of Hygiene & Microbiology ‘G. D’Alessandro’, Center for Enterobacteriaceae of Southern Italy, University of Palermo, via del Vespro 133, 90127 Palermo, Italy


Salmonella typhimurium is the most frequently identified serovar of Salmonella in Italy. This serovar is characterized by the widespread dissemination among human and non-human sources of phenotypically and genetically well-differentiated clones.

In this study 457 strains of S. typhimurium isolated in Italy in the years 1982–91 from human and animal sources were submitted to characterization by the rDNA fingerprinting technique. Application of this typing method, after digestion of chromosomal DNA with HincII endonuclease, confirmed the greatest genetic differentiation of clones of S. typhimurium, allowing reliable identification of 45 rDNA patterns linked into 9 major clusters. rDNA pattern clusters or ribotypes specific to man were not recognized, whereas some rDNA patterns were characteristically related to ducks, pigeons and pet birds. The ribotyping results for isolates from animal hosts suggest that pig and cattle are the main source of human infection.

(Accepted December 30 1992)