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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2008 Sep;102(9):852-6. doi: 10.1016/j.trstmh.2008.03.017. Epub 2008 May 2.

New insights into the epidemiology of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli infection.

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Instituto de Medicina Tropical, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Av. Honorio Delgado 430, San Martin de Porras, Lima 33, Peru.


Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) are among the most important pathogens infecting children worldwide and are one of the main causes of persistent diarrhea. EPEC were originally serogroup-defined E. coli associated with infantile diarrhea. As various mechanisms of pathogenesis have been discovered, EPEC classification has come to be based on the presence of specific genes. The eae (intimin) and bfpA (bundle-forming pilus) genes have both been used for identification of EPEC and for subdivision of this group of bacteria into typical and atypical strains. For many years typical EPEC have been considered to be the leading cause of infantile diarrhea in developing countries and were considered rare in industrialized countries. However, current data suggests that atypical EPEC are more prevalent than typical EPEC in both developing and developed countries. Moreover, the duration of diarrhea in patients infected with atypical EPEC is significantly longer than that caused by other pathogens. When comparing the isolation rates of EPEC among children with diarrhea and healthy controls without diarrhea, in general, there is a higher isolation rate in diarrhea, although not significantly higher in all studies. These inconsistencies probably are related to the study patient populations, reflecting a possible age-related susceptibility to infection.

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