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Keywords:

  • Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli;
  • multiple-aetiology infections;
  • diarrhoea

Summary

We describe multiple-aetiology infections involving non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) identified through laboratory-based surveillance in nine FoodNet sites from 2001 to 2010. A multiple-aetiology infection (MEI) was defined as isolation of non-O157 STEC and laboratory evidence of any of the other nine pathogens under surveillance or isolation of >1 non-O157 STEC serogroup from the same person within a 7-day period. We compared exposures of patients with MEI during 2001–2010 with those of patients with single-aetiology non-O157 STEC infections (SEI) during 2008–2009 and with those of the FoodNet population from a survey conducted during 2006–2007. In total, 1870 non-O157 STEC infections were reported; 68 (3.6%) were MEI; 60 included pathogens other than non-O157 STEC; and eight involved >1 serogroup of non-O157 STEC. Of the 68 MEI, 21 (31%) were part of six outbreaks. STEC O111 was isolated in 44% of all MEI. Of patients with MEI, 50% had contact with farm animals compared with 29% (< 0.01) of persons with SEI; this difference was driven by infections involving STEC O111. More patients with non-outbreak-associated MEI reported drinking well water (62%) than respondents in a population survey (19%) (< 0.01). Drinking well water and having contact with animals may be important exposures for MEI, especially those involving STEC O111.