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Enterohaemorrhagic and other Shiga toxin‐producing Escherichia coli (STEC): Where are we now regarding diagnostics and control strategies?

Newell, D. G., La Ragione, R. M.
Transboundary and emerging diseases 2018 v.65 Suppl S1 pp. 49-71
Gram-negative bacteria, cost effectiveness, decontamination, diagnostic techniques, emerging diseases, enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli, food chain, food pathogens, hosts, human diseases, humans, intestinal microorganisms, loop-mediated isothermal amplification, microbial detection, monitoring, pathotypes, public health, sequence analysis, vaccines
Escherichia coli comprises a highly diverse group of Gram‐negative bacteria and is a common member of the intestinal microflora of humans and animals. Generally, such colonization is asymptomatic; however, some E. coli strains have evolved to become pathogenic and thus cause clinical disease in susceptible hosts. One pathotype, the Shiga toxigenic E. coli (STEC) comprising strains expressing a Shiga‐like toxin is an important foodborne pathogen. A subset of STEC are the enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), which can cause serious human disease, including haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). The diagnosis of EHEC infections and the surveillance of STEC in the food chain and the environment require accurate, cost‐effective and timely tests. In this review, we describe and evaluate tests now in routine use, as well as upcoming test technologies for pathogen detection, including loop‐mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) and whole‐genome sequencing (WGS). We have considered the need for improved diagnostic tools in current strategies for the control and prevention of these pathogens in humans, the food chain and the environment. We conclude that although significant progress has been made, STEC still remains an important zoonotic issue worldwide. Substantial reductions in the public health burden due to this infection will require a multipronged approach, including ongoing surveillance with high‐resolution diagnostic techniques currently being developed and integrated into the routine investigations of public health laboratories. However, additional research requirements may be needed before such high‐resolution diagnostic tools can be used to enable the development of appropriate interventions, such as vaccines and decontamination strategies.