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Emerg Infect Dis. 2004 Oct;10(10):1797-805.

Escherichia coli and community-acquired gastroenteritis, Melbourne, Australia.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.


As part of a study to determine the effects of water filtration on the incidence of community-acquired gastroenteritis in Melbourne, Australia, we examined fecal samples from patients with gastroenteritis and asymptomatic persons for diarrheagenic strains of Escherichia coli. Atypical strains of enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) were the most frequently identified pathogens of all bacterial, viral, and parasitic agents in patients with gastroenteritis. Moreover, atypical EPEC were more common in patients with gastroenteritis (89 [12.8%] of 696) than in asymptomatic persons (11 [2.3%] of 489, p < 0.0001). Twenty-two random isolates of atypical EPEC that were characterized further showed marked heterogeneity in terms of serotype, genetic subtype, and carriage of virulence-associated determinants. Apart from the surface protein, intimin, no virulence determinant or phenotype was uniformly present in atypical EPEC strains. This study shows that atypical EPEC are an important cause of gastroenteritis in Melbourne.

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