Laboratory-confirmed non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli--Connecticut, 2000-2005.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2007 Jan 19; 56(2):29-31.MM
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infection causes diarrhea that is often bloody and can result in potentially life-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Escherichia coli O157:H7 is the most common cause of STEC infection in the United States, producing 73,000 illnesses annually, according to the last estimate in 1999. Unlike O157, however, little is known about the incidence of non-O157 strains. Because STEC other than O157 are not commonly identified, the incidence, trends, and epidemiology of non-O157 STEC are not well understood. To assess trends in Shiga toxin enzyme immunoassay (Stx EIA) testing by local clinical laboratories, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CTDPH) analyzed results of confirmatory testing conducted in the state laboratory during 2000--2005. The findings indicated that a total of 403 STEC infections were reported by clinical laboratories in Connecticut, including 207 identified as STEC by Stx EIA testing alone, and that the use of Stx EIA increased from 2000 to 2005. Use of Stx EIA without prompt culture confirmation can delay or prevent serotyping and subtyping of isolates and detection of both O157 and non-O157 STEC outbreaks. Public health authorities in all states should ensure that clinical laboratories forward Stx EIA-positive specimens to the state laboratory for isolation and identification of STEC, as recommended by the Association of Public Health Laboratories and CDC.