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Characterisation of the Escherichia coli strain associated with an outbreak of haemolytic uraemic syndrome in Germany, 2011: a microbiological study

Bielaszewska M et al; Lancet Infectious Diseases, 2011; 11: 671-676.

Background: In an ongoing outbreak of haemolytic uraemic syndrome and [...]
Characterisation of the Escherichia coli strain associated with an outbreak of haemolytic uraemic syndrome in Germany, 2011: a microbiological study

Bielaszewska M et al; Lancet Infectious Diseases, 2011; 11: 671-676.

Background: In an ongoing outbreak of haemolytic uraemic syndrome and bloody diarrhoea caused by a virulent Escherichia coli strain O104:H4 in Germany (with some cases elsewhere in Europe and North America), 810 cases of the syndrome and 39 deaths have occurred since the beginning of May, 2011. We analysed virulence profiles and relevant phenotypes of outbreak isolates (from 80 patients) recovered in our laboratory.

Interpretation: Augmented adherence of the strain to intestinal epithelium might facilitate systemic absorption of Shiga toxin and could explain the high progression to haemolytic uraemic syndrome. This outbreak demonstrates that blended virulence profiles in enteric pathogens, introduced into susceptible populations, can have extreme consequences for infected people.
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