Many serogroups of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) other than serogroup O157 (non-O157 STEC), for example STEC O26:H11, are highly pathogenic and capable of causing hemolytic uremic syndrome.
A recent increase in non-O157 STEC cases identified in England, resulting from a change in the testing paradigm, prompted a review of the current methods available for detection and typing of non-O157 STEC for surveillance and outbreak investigations. Nineteen STEC O26:H11 strains, including four from a nursery outbreak were selected to assess typing methods. Serotyping and multilocus sequence typing were not able to discriminate between the stx-producing strains in the dataset. However, genome sequencing provided rapid and robust confirmation that isolates of STEC O26:H11 associated with a nursery outbreak were linked at the molecular level, had a common source and were distinct from the other strains analysed. Virulence gene profiling of DNA extracted from a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-positive/culture-negative faecal specimen from a case that was epidemiologically linked to the STEC O26:H11 nursery outbreak, provided evidence at the molecular level to support that link. During this study, we describe the utility of PCR and the genome sequencing approach in facilitating surveillance and enhancing the response to outbreaks of non-O157 STEC.
The utility and public health implications of PCR and whole genome sequencing for the detection and investigation of an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli serogroup O26:H11
Epidemiology and Infection, 143, pp 1672-1680
J. DALLMAN, L. BYRNE, N. LAUNDERS, K. GLEN, K. A. GRANT and C. JENKINS