Verotoxigenic Escherichia coli infection: U.S. Overview

Phillip I. Tarr, Thomas E. Besser, Dale D. Hancock, William E. Keene, Marcia Goldoft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Escherichia coli O157:H7 remains a public health problem in the United States despite a dramatic increase in the awareness of, and concern about, foodborne infections since the 1993 multistate E. coli O157:H7 epidemic. Although surveillance data can be difficult to interpret, the incidence of endemic disease caused by this organism is probably not increasing, and might be decreasing, at least in selected populations. With increased recognition of E. coli O157:H7 infection has come the investigation of increasing number of outbreaks, leading to the recognition of many 'new' vehicles, including some foods not traditionally associated with enteric infections, such as dry-cured salami and lettuce. Molecular fingerprinting techniques are being used to track the transmission of E. coli O157:H7 through human populations. Analysis of DNA encoding virulence factors and surface antigens suggests that diarrheagenic E. coli have evolved by acquiring large DNA fragments, with subsequent chromosomal recombination. Some Shiga toxin-producing E. coli other than E. coli O157:H7 are no doubt pathogens, but the majority of these toxigenic strains found in food are probably not virulent. More research is needed to define the characteristics that render selected Shiga toxin-producing organisms harmful to humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1466-1471
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Food Protection
Volume60
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1997

Keywords

  • E. coli O157:H7
  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome
  • Shiga toxin
  • Verocytotoxin

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