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Clin Microbiol Infect. 1999 Jan;5(1):16-22.

Hemolytic uremic syndrome in Belgium: incidence and association with verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli infection.

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Department of Microbiology (VTEC reference laboratory), Academisch Ziekenhuis Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels.



To evaluate the incidence of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in Belgium and to determine the role of verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 and other serotypes (non-O157 VTEC).


Twenty-two centers, including the seven university hospitals, registered prospectively all cases of HUS; they collected clinical samples for isolation of VTEC strains and serum for detection of specific O-lipopolysaccharide antibodies.


Forty-seven cases of HUS (including five incomplete cases) were recorded. Three cases were seen in non-residents. The incidence of complete HUS in Belgian residents was 4.3 cases/100 000 in children <5 years old, 1.8 cases/100 000 when all children <15 years were considered, and 0.42/100 000 when patients of all ages were taken into account. By combining bacteriologic and serologic results, evidence of VTEC infection was obtained in 64% of the patients, mainly but not exclusively in children with prodromal diarrhea. The 13 VTEC isolates belonged to serotypes O157:H7 (nine isolates), O26:H11, O121:H---, O145:H--- and O172:H--- (one each) and all produced VT2 (+VT2vh-a in three O157 strains) and were positive for the eaeA gene.


The incidence rate found in this study and the high mortality and morbidity linked with this syndrome warrant further registration of pediatric and post-diarrheic adult HUS cases and also examination of stools for both O157 and non-O157 VTEC strains. For effective prevention of this disease, further study of the serotypes and accessory virulence factors associated with HUS is needed.

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