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Int J Infect Dis. 2003 Mar;7(1):35-8.

Phenotypic diversity of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) isolated from cases of travelers' diarrhea in Kenya.

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Naval Medical Research Unit No. 3, Cairo, Egypt.



The aim of this study was to characterize phenotypically enterotoxins, colonization factors (CFs) and the antibiotic susceptibility of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) strains isolated from cases of acute diarrhea that occurred in Europeans traveling to resorts in Mombasa, Kenya; this information is critical for the development of vaccines and empirical treatment.


Over a 1-year period from 1996 to 1997, five E. coli-like colonies were obtained from each of 463 cases with acute diarrhea. These strains were characterized for enterotoxins using GM-1 ELISA, for CFs using a dot-blot assay, and for antibiotic susceptibility using antibiotic disks.


Of 164 strains characterized for ETEC phenotype, 30 (18%) expressed heat-labile toxin (LT) only, 83 (51%) heat-stable toxin (ST) only, and 51 (31%) both LT and ST. Analysis for CF expression demonstrated that 107 (65%) of the strains were positive for CFs, including CFA/IV (46%), CFA/II (35%), and CFA/I (5%), while less than 4% expressed less common CFs. All ETEC strains tested were resistant to erythromycin and sensitive to ceftriaxone. Over one-third of the strains were resistant to sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim or tetracycline. Six strains were resistant to nalidixic acid; none of these were resistant to ciprofloxacin.


Cumulatively, our findings indicate that ETEC in this region comprises a highly diverse group of bacterial enteropathogens, and that the development of prophylactic agents against ETEC faces major challenges because of this diversity.

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