Genetic relatedness of Vibrio cholerae isolates within and between households during outbreaks in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Christine Marie George, Mahamud Rashid, Mathieu Almeida, K. M. Saif-Ur-Rahman, Shirajum Monira, Md Sazzadul Islam Bhuyian, Khaled Hasan, Toslim T. Mahmud, Shan Li, Jessica Brubaker, Jamie Perin, Zillur Rahman, Munshi Mustafiz, David A. Sack, R. Bradley Sack, Munirul Alam, O. Colin Stine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Household contacts of cholera patients have a 100 times higher risk of developing a cholera infection than the general population. To compare the genetic relatedness of clinical and water source Vibrio cholerae isolates from cholera patients' households across three outbreaks, we analyzed these isolates using whole-genome-sequencing (WGS) and multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA). Results: The WGS analyses revealed that 80% of households had source water isolates that were more closely related to clinical isolates from the same household than to any other isolates. While in another 20% of households an isolate from a person was more closely related to clinical isolates from another household than to source water isolates from their own household. The mean pairwise differences in single nucleotide-variant (SNV) counts for isolates from the same household were significantly lower than those for different households (2.4 vs. 7.7 p < 0.0001), and isolates from the same outbreak had significantly fewer mean pairwise differences compared to isolates from different outbreaks (mean: 6.2 vs. 8.0, p < 0.0001). Based on MLVA in outbreak 1, we observed that the majority of households had clinical isolates with MLVA genotypes related to other clinical isolates and unrelated to water source isolates from the same household. While in outbreak 3, there were different MLVA genotypes between households, however within the majority of households, the clinical and water source isolates had the same MLVA genotypes. The beginning of outbreak 2 resembled outbreak 1 and the latter part resembled outbreak 3. We validated our use of MLVA by comparing it to WGS. Isolates with the identical MLVA genotype had significantly fewer mean pairwise SNV differences than those isolates with different MLVA genotypes (mean: 4.8 vs. 7.7, p < 0.0001). Furthermore, consistent with WGS results, the number of pairwise differences in the five MLVA loci for isolates within the same household was significantly lower than isolates from different households (mean: 1.6 vs. 3.0, p < 0.0001). Conclusion: These results suggest that transmission patterns for cholera are a combination of person-to-person and water-to-person cholera transmission with the proportions of the two modes varying within and between outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number903
JournalBMC genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 25 2017


  • Bangladesh
  • Genetics
  • Household transmission
  • Multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis
  • Outbreak surveillance
  • Vibrio cholerae
  • Whole genome sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics


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