• PCR ribotyping;
  • arbitrarily primed PCR;
  • Bacteroides fragilis;
  • molecular typing;
  • enterotoxin

Objective: To study the clinical incidence and possible clonal relatedness of enterotoxigenic strains of Bacteroides fragilis among pediatric and adult patients in two Polish university hospitals.

Method: Fecal samples from 201 adults and 131 infants (with or without diarrhea) and vaginal samples from 100 pregnant women nursed in two Polish university hospitals were analyzed with respect to carriage of enterotoxin-producing Bacteroides fragilis (ETBF). This putative pathogen was identified by cultivation and subsequent cytopathogenicity testing of culture supernatants on HT/29 C1 cells.

Results and discussion: Two ETBF strains were isolated from childrens’ feces; two additional strains were isolated from adults, and from the vaginal samples only a single strain was isolated. One strain (W2) was isolated from a child with diarrhea. These incidence figures, the fact that all ETBF isolates were shown to produce strongly differing amounts of the cytotoxin, and the genetic unrelatedness of the strains as demonstrated by two different PCR-mediated DNA typing procedures, indicates that clonal spread of ETBF is presently not a clinical problem in these hospitals. It was shown that PCR-mediated ribotyping and arbitrarily primed PCR can be applied with success to study the epidemiology of ETBF.