Journal Article

Preventing Household Transmission of Shiga Toxin–Producing <i>Escherichia coli</i> O157 Infection: Promptly Separating Siblings Might Be the Key

Dirk Werber, Brendan W. Mason, Meirion R. Evans and Roland L. Salmon

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 46, issue 8, pages 1189-1196
Published in print April 2008 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online April 2008 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/587670
Preventing Household Transmission of Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli O157 Infection: Promptly Separating Siblings Might Be the Key

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Background. Preventing household transmission of Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli O157 (STEC O157) infection is important because of the ease of interpersonal transmission and the potential disease severity.

Methods. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of households associated with an outbreak of STEC O157 infection in South Wales, United Kingdom, in autumn 2005. We investigated whether characteristics of the primary case patient or the household were predictors for secondary household transmission of STEC O157 infection. Furthermore, we estimated the proportion of cases that might be prevented by isolation (e.g., hospitalization) of the primary case patient immediately after the microbiological diagnosis and the number of patients with STEC O157 who would need to be isolated to prevent 1 case of hemolytic uremic syndrome. Based on dates of symptom onset, case patients in households were classified as having primary, coprimary, or secondary infection. Secondary cases were considered to be preventable if the secondary case patient's symptoms started >1 incubation period (4 days) after the date of microbiological diagnosis of the primary case.

Results. Eighty-nine (91%) of 98 eligible households were enrolled. Among 20 households (22%), 25 secondary cases were ascertained. Thirteen secondary cases (56%) occurred in siblings of the primary case patients; hemolytic uremic syndrome developed in 4 of these siblings. Presence of a sibling (risk ratio, 3.8; 95% confidence interval, 0.99–14.6) and young age (<5 years) of the primary case patient (risk ratio, 2.03; 95% confidence interval, 0.99–41.6) were independent predictors for households in which secondary cases occurred. Of the 15 secondary cases for which complete information was available, 7 (46%) might have been prevented. When restricting isolation to primary case patients who were aged <10 years and who had a sibling, we estimated the number of patients who would need to be isolated to prevent 1 case of hemolytic uremic syndrome to be 47 patients (95% confidence interval, 16–78 patients).

Conclusions. Promptly separating pediatric patients with STEC O157 infection from their young siblings should be considered.

Journal Article.  4939 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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