Colonization of neonates in a nursery ward with enteropathogenic Escherichia coli and correlation to the clinical histories of the children.
Mutanda, L N
Gathuma, J M
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Stool samples were examined from 30 preterm neonates admitted to a nursery ward; 16 neonates had diarrhea, 12 constituted an age-matched control group without diarrhea, and 2 had an unknown history regarding diarrhea. Variable numbers of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli serotype O111:HNT strains possessing the gene coding for the enteroadherence factor (EAF) were found in stool samples from 13 of the neonates. No other microbiological enteropathogen was found. A total of 294 strains (9 or 10 from each neonate, comprising 229 E. coli and 65 Klebsiella pneumoniae strains) were characterized with respect to plasmid content and grouped into 37 plasmid profile groups. Diarrhea was found not to be correlated with any specific plasmid profile or with the presence of the EAF-positive strains but rather with the number of strains with one specific plasmid profile or with the number of EAF-positive strains (of the 9 or 10 strains) isolated from each stool sample. All the neonates who died had diarrhea (5 died of 16 with diarrhea); all five of the neonates who died possessed strains with one specific plasmid profile group, and EAF-positive strains were isolated from four of them. Of the seven neonates from whom seven or more EAF-positive isolates were isolated, three died, compared with only one of five of those from whom only a few (1 to 3 of 10) EAF-positive strains were isolated. Both plasmid profiling and genetic probing with the EAF probe were found to be good alternatives when serotyping is not available for identification of O111:HNT enteropathogenic E. coli strains.