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Clin Microbiol Infect. 1998 Feb;4(12):682-688.

Prevalence of diarrheagenic Escherichia coli strains detected by PCR in patients with travelers' diarrhea.

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Departments of Microbiology and.



To determine the prevalence of the different categories of diarrheagenic Escherichia coli, enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC), verotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC), enteroaggregative E. coli (EAggEC), diffusely adherent E. coli (DAEC), and enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), associated with travelers' diarrhea.


Stool specimens from 350 patients with travelers' diarrhea were collected between 1994 and 1996. The virulence factors of the diarrheagenic E. coli isolated were detected by PCR technique, in subcultures of single colonies of all morphotypes of E. coli observed in culture on MacConkey agar.


ETEC (15.7%), EAggEC (13.4%) and DAEC (9.14%) are significantly more prevalent than EIEC (3.4%), EPEC (2.86%) and VTEC (0.86%) (p<0.05; z-test). The prevalence of ETEC and EAggEC was similar in all geographic areas visited.


PCR is a rapid and specific technique to use in the identification of the different categories of diarrheagenic E. coli and greatly increases the yield of potential enteropathogens from cases of travelers' diarrhea. Not only ETEC but also EAggEC and DAEC strains play a major role in the etiology of travelers' diarrhea, whereas EIEC, EPEC, and VTEC strains play a minor role, leading to the question of whether it is necessary to search routinely for these three types of E. coli in diagnostic laboratories.

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