Volume 33, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



An outbreak of dysentery began late in 1979 in Central Africa and spread to involve a major portion of Zaire as well as Rwanda and Burundi. We traveled to a mission hospital in northeast Zaire during the epidemic and isolated , type 1, from most of the patients studied. All isolates were resistant to ampicillin, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, sulfathiazole, and streptomycin but sensitive to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Antimicrobial resistance was transferable to , and at least three plasmids were identified in the donor isolates by using agarose gel electrophoresis. One was coded for ampicillin, tetracycline, and chloramphenicol resistance while a second conferred resistance to ampicillin and chloramphenicol but not tetracycline. A third large plasmid of approximately 120 megadaltons could not be transferred to recipients. All isolates yielded identical kinetic growth curves when analyzed on the Abbot MS-2 Research System. This is the most extensive outbreak of dysentery caused by reported since the Central American epidemic of 1969, and the first epidemic caused by a strain resistant to ampicillin.


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