Serotypes, virulence genes, and intimin types of Shiga toxin (verotoxin) -producing Escherichia coli isolates from human patients: prevalence in Lugo, Spain, from 1992 through 1999
Blanco, J.E.; Blanco, M.; Alonso, M.P.; Mora, A.; Dahbi, G.; Coira, M.A.; Blanco, J.
Journal of Clinical Microbiology 42(1): 311-319
We have analyzed the prevalence of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in stool specimens of patients with diarrhea or other gastrointestinal alterations from the Xeral-Calde Hospital of Lugo City (Spain). STEC strains were detected in 126 (2.5%) of 5,054 cases investigated, with a progressive increase in the incidence from 0% in 1992 to 4.4% in 1999. STEC O157:H7 was isolated in 24 cases (0.5%), whereas non-O157 STEC strains were isolated from 87 patients (1.7%). STEC strains were (after Salmonella and Campylobacter strains) the third most frequently recovered enteropathogenic bacteria. A total of 126 human STEC isolates were characterized in this study. PCR showed that 43 (34%) isolates carried stx(1) genes, 45 (36%) possessed stx(2) genes and 38 (30%) carried both stx(1) and stx(2). A total of 88 (70%) isolates carried an ehxA enterohemolysin gene, and 70 (56%) isolates possessed an eae intimin gene (27 isolates with type gamma1, 20 with type beta1, 8 with type zeta, 5 with type gamma2, and 3 with type epsilon). STEC isolates belonged to 41 O serogroups and 66 O:H serotypes, including 21 serotypes associated with hemolytic uremic syndrome and 30 new serotypes not previously reported among human STEC strains in other studies. Although the 126 STEC isolates belonged to 81 different seropathotypes (associations between serotypes and virulence genes), only four accounted for 31% of isolates. Seropathotype O157:H7 stx(1) stx(2) eae-gamma1 ehxA was the most common (13 isolates) followed by O157:H7 stx(2) eae-gamma1 ehxA (11 isolates), O26:H11 stx(1) eae-beta1 ehxA (11 isolates), and O111:H- stx(1) stx(2) eae-gamma2 ehxA (4 isolates). Our results suggest that STEC strains are a significant cause of human infections in Spain and confirm that in continental Europe, infections caused by STEC non-O157 strains are more common than those caused by O157:H7 isolates. The high prevalence of STEC strains (both O157:H7 and non-O157 strains) in human patients, and their association with serious complications, strongly supports the utilization of protocols for detection of all serotypes of STEC in Spanish clinical microbiology laboratories.