Isolation of Vibrio cholerae and other enteric microbiota from patients with suspected cholera during the 2009 outbreak in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea

Monalisa P. Kas, Paul F Horwood, Moses Laman, Laurens A Manning, Vincent Atua, Peter M. Siba, Andrew R. Greenhill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


When cholera was first detected in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in mid-2009, national diagnostic capacity faced many challenges. This was in part due to the non-endemic status of the outbreak, resulting in few local staff experienced in Vibrio cholerae detection and poor access to the required consumables. The PNG Institute of Medical Research conducted culture on specimens from suspected cholera patients in Madang Province, with presumptive V. cholerae isolates sent to Goroka for confirmation. Of 98 samples analysed 15 were culture positive, with V. cholerae detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in an additional 3 samples. Further analyses were conducted to identify other pathogenic bacteria from thiosulphate citrate bile salt sucrose (TCBS) agar. Molecular-based assays detected enteropathogenic (n = 1) and enterotoxigenic (n = 1) strains of Escherichia coli. No other major enteric pathogens were detected. The low detection rate of V. cholerae at the provincial level reflects challenges in the laboratory diagnosis of cholera and in-country challenges in responding to an outbreak of a non-endemic disease, such as lack of in-country diagnostic expertise and available consumables in the early stages. It also suggests that full aetiological investigations are warranted in future outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea in PNG to fully elucidate the potentially complex aetiology, which could in turn guide diagnostic, treatment and prevention measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-115
Number of pages6
JournalPapua and New Guinea Medical Journal
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

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