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J Med Microbiol. 1991 Nov;35(5):278-83.

Identification of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli isolated in Britain as enteroaggregative or as members of a subclass of attaching-and-effacing E. coli not hybridising with the EPEC adherence-factor probe.

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Division of Enteric Pathogens, Central Public Health Laboratory, London.


Strains of Escherichia coli from sporadic cases of diarrhoea and belonging to serotypes O44:H18, O55:H7, O111ab:H21, O111ab:H25 or O126:H27 were examined for virulence properties. With the exception of O111ab:H25 these are considered to be classical enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) serotypes. The strains had been isolated in Britain from the faeces of children less than 3 years old. Of the serotypes examined, 7 of 13 O44:H18 strains, all of 10 O111ab:H21 strains and 13 of 21 O126:H27 strains belonged to the enteroaggregative class of E. coli (EAggEC) that attached to HEp-2 cells in the characteristic aggregative pattern and hybridised with the EAggEC probe. They also caused mannose-resistant haemagglutination of rat erythrocytes, a property which may be a useful marker for their identification. Strains of O44:H18 with similar properties were also isolated from three small outbreaks in Britain, one of which involved elderly patients. EAggEC have not been considered previously as aetiological agents of diarrhoea in developed countries and have rarely been reported as belonging to EPEC serotypes. All 15 O55:H7 strains and seven of eight O111ab:H25 strains were also considered to be potentially diarrhoeagenic as they gave localised attachment (LA) to HEp-2 cells that resulted in a positive fluorescence actin-staining test. This test is considered to correlate with the attaching-and-effacing virulence mechanisms of EPEC in vivo.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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