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Emerg Infect Dis. 2001 Sep-Oct; 7(5): 812–819.
PMCID: PMC2631888

Factors contributing to the emergence of Escherichia coli O157 in Africa.


In 1992, a large outbreak of bloody diarrhea caused by Escherichia coli O157 infections occurred in southern Africa. In Swaziland, 40,912 physician visits for diarrhea in persons ages >5 years were reported during October through November 1992. This was a sevenfold increase over the same period during 1990-91. The attack rate was 42% among 778 residents we surveyed. Female gender and consuming beef and untreated water were significant risks for illness. E. coli O157:NM was recovered from seven affected foci in Swaziland and South Africa; 27 of 31 patient and environmental isolates had indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns. Compared with previous years, a fivefold increase in cattle deaths occurred in October 1992. The first heavy rains fell that same month (36 mm), following 3 months of drought. Drought, carriage of E. coli O157 by cattle, and heavy rains with contamination of surface water appear to be important factors contributing to this outbreak.

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Selected References

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