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The rapid identification of the potentially toxigenic Corynebacterium species, C. diphtheriae, C. ulcerans and C. pseudotuberculosis is essential for diagnosis and treatment of diphtheria and diphtheria-like diseases. We used matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) in comparison with classical microbiological and molecular methods on 116 Corynebacterium strains. All 90 potentially toxigenic Corynebacterium strains collected by the German National Consiliary Laboratory on Diphtheria in a period of more than ten years were correctly identified by MALDI-TOF MS. We propose an algorithm for fast and reliable diagnosis of diphtheria incorporating MALDI-TOF MS, real-time tox PCR and Elek testing.


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