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J Infect Dis. 2008 Jan 15;197(2):218-24. doi: 10.1086/524844.

Escherichia coli colonization patterns among human household members and pets, with attention to acute urinary tract infection.

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Mucosal and Vaccine Research Center, Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minnesota, Minneapolis 55417, USA.



Within-household transmission of Escherichia coli may promote urinary tract infection (UTI) but is poorly understood.


Fecal samples from 228 individuals (152 humans [5 with acute UTI] and 76 pets) in 63 households were extensively processed for unique E. coli clones, as defined by random-amplified polymorphic DNA analysis and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Patterns of strain sharing (presence of a clone in multiple individuals) were assessed.


Of 335 E. coli clones, 90 (27%) were recovered from multiple hosts (up to 11 per clone). Within-household strain sharing (1) involved 68% of households, including 3 of 5 households in which a member had a UTI; (2) was more frequent than across-household strain sharing (27% vs. 0.8% of potential sharing pairs; P< .001); (3) increased with household size (r2=0.93; P< .001); and (4) varied by host-pair type (pet-pet, 58%; human-human, 31%; human-pet, 17%). Sex partners shared strains more commonly than did other adults (31% vs. 7% of pairs; P= .08) but accounted for only 12% of within-household strain sharing.


Within-household sharing of E. coli, including in households in which a member has a UTI, is common and can involve any combination of humans and pets. Identification of the underlying mechanism(s) could lead to novel preventive measures against UTI.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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