Enhanced identification and characterization of non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli: a six-year study.Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2012 Nov; 9(11):1028-36.FP
Non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are emerging pathogens with the potential to cause serious illness and impact public health due to diagnostic challenges. Between 2005 and 2010, the Wadsworth Center (WC), the public health laboratory of the New York State (NYS) Department of Health, requested that Shiga toxin enzyme immunoassay (EIA)-positive stool enrichment broths and/or stool specimens be submitted by clinical and commercial reference laboratories testing NYS patient specimens. A total of 798 EIA-positive specimens were received for confirmation and serotyping, and additionally a subset of STEC was assessed for the presence of six virulence genes (stx1, stx2, eaeA, hlyA, nleA, and nleB) by real-time polymerase chain reaction. We confirmed 591 specimens as STEC, 164 (28%) as O157 STEC, and 427 (72%) as non-O157 STEC. Of the non-O157 STEC serogroups identified, over 70% were O103, O26, O111, O45, O121, or O145. During this time period, WC identified and characterized a total of 1282 STEC received as E. coli isolates, stool specimens, or EIA broths. Overall, the STEC testing identified 59% as O157 STEC and 41% as non-O157 STEC; however, out of 600 isolates submitted to the WC as E. coli cultures, 543 (90%) were identified as O157 STEC. This report summarizes a 6-year study utilizing enhanced STEC testing that resulted in increased identification and characterization of non-O157 STEC in NYS. Continued utilization of enhanced STEC testing may lead to effective and timely outbreak response and improve monitoring of trends in STEC disease epidemiology.