Prevalence of Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli among Children with and without Diarrhea in Switzerland
Journal - Journal of Clinical Microbiology
In a prospective study between July 1999 and September 2000, stool specimens of children below the age of 16 years with (n = 187) and without (n = 137) diarrhea were tested for the presence of enterovirulent bacteria by standard culture methods and by PCR. Targets for the PCR were the plasmid pCVD432 for enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC), the verotoxin 1 and verotoxin 2 genes for enterohemorrhagic E. coli, ipaH for enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC) and Shigella spp., genes coding for heat-stable and heat-labile toxins for enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), and the eaeA gene for enteropathogenic E. coli. The following bacteria could be associated with diarrhea: Salmonella enterica (P = 0.001), Campylobacter spp. (P = 0.036), ETEC (P = 0.012), and EAEC (P = 0.006). The detection of EAEC, ETEC, and S. enterica was strongly associated with a history of recent travel outside of Switzerland. EAEC isolates were found in the specimens of 19 (10.2%) of 187 children with diarrhea and in those of 3 (2.2%) of 137 children without diarrhea (P = 0.006) and were the most frequently detected bacteria associated with diarrhea. Among the children below the age of 5 years, the specimens of 18 (11.9%) of 151 with diarrhea were positive for EAEC, while this agent was found in the specimens of 2 (2.2%) of 91 controls (P = 0.007). Enteropathogenic E. coli isolates were found in the specimens of 30 (16.4%) of the patients and in those of 15 (10.9%) of the controls, with similar frequencies in all age groups (P > 0.05). We conclude that EAEC bacteria are involved in a significant proportion of diarrhea cases among children. Children younger than 5 years of age are more often affected by EAEC than older children.