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Second-Pandemic Strain of Vibrio cholerae from the Philadelphia Cholera Outbreak of 1849

Research paper on the identification and retrieval of Vibrio cholerae from preserved intestines of a victim of the 1849 cholera outbreak in Philadelphia, part of the second cholera pandemic.

Feb 05, 2014

Authors: Alison M. Devault, G. Brian Golding, Nicholas Waglechner, Jacob M. Enk, Melanie Kuch, Joseph H. Tien, Mang Shi, David N. Fisman, Anna N. Dhody, Stephen Forrest, Kirsten I. Bos, David J.D. Earn, Edward C. Holmes, and Hendrik N. Poinar.

New England Journal of Medicine 2014; 370:334-340 January 23, 2014 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1308663

Abstract
In the 19th century, there were several major cholera pandemics in the Indian subcontinent, Europe, and North America. The causes of these outbreaks and the genomic strain identities remain a mystery. We used targeted high-throughput sequencing to reconstruct the Vibrio cholerae genome from the preserved intestine of a victim of the 1849 cholera outbreak in Philadelphia, part of the second cholera pandemic. This O1 biotype strain has 95 to 97% similarity with the classical O395 genome, differing by 203 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), lacking three genomic islands, and probably having one or more tandem cholera toxin prophage (CTX) arrays, which potentially affected its virulence. This result highlights archived medical remains as a potential resource for investigations into the genomic origins of past pandemics.

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