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Lancet. 1997 Jun 7;349(9066):1660-2.

Acute and chronic diarrhoea and abdominal colic associated with enteroaggregative Escherichia coli in young children living in western Europe.

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Children's Hospital, University of W├╝rzburg, Germany.



Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAggEC or EAEC) can spread and cause disease in developing countries, but it is not presently known whether it spreads disease in industrialised countries. Therefore, we did a prospective study to assess the incidence and the clinical manifestations of infections due to EAEC in children in Germany.


798 children with diarrhoea, admitted to hospital within a defined geographical area during a 24-month period, were included in the trial. EAEC were cultured from stool specimens, screened by PCR, and identified by colony hybridisation from DNA sequences found on the virulence plasmid. The findings were confirmed by aggregative adherence to HEp-2 cells. Stool samples from 580 children admitted to hospital without diarrhoea were also studied as controls.


EAEC were found in the stools of 16 (2%) of 798 children with diarrhoea, but in none of 580 children without diarrhoea. Only four of the EAEC-infected children had travelled to developing countries. Most EAEC infections were acquired in the summer months. Infection with EAEC was associated with acute, watery diarrhoea in 12 children, and with chronic diarrhoea of up to 5 months' duration in four. Five children had abdominal colic that lasted for 2-4 weeks as their main symptom. The incidence of EAEC infection was 7.7 patients admitted to hospital per 100,000 children in the general population aged younger than 16 years.


EAEC infection is associated with acute, watery diarrhoea and may be acquired in industrialised countries. Chronic diarrhoea or abdominal colic of unknown aetiology in young children may also be caused by EAEC infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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