Journal Article

Serogroup-Specific Risk Factors for Shiga Toxin-Producing <i>Escherichia coli</i> Infection in Australia

Michelle McPherson, Karin Lalor, Barry Combs, Jane Raupach, Russell Stafford and Martyn D. Kirk

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 49, issue 2, pages 249-256
Published in print July 2009 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online July 2009 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/599370
Serogroup-Specific Risk Factors for Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli Infection in Australia

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  • Infectious Diseases
  • Immunology
  • Public Health and Epidemiology
  • Microbiology

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Background.Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is an important cause of foodborne illness. In Australia, risk factors for STEC infection have not been examined at a national level.

Methods.We conducted a case-control study in 6 Australian jurisdictions from 2003 through 2007. A case patient was defined as a person from whom STEC was isolated or toxin production genes were detected in stool. Case patients were recruited from notifiable disease registers, and 3 control subjects frequency matched by age were selected from databases of controls. Using structured questionnaires, interviewers collected data on clinical illness, foods consumed, and exposures to potential environmental sources.

Results.We recruited 43 case patients infected with STEC serogroup O157, 71 case patients infected with non-O157 serogroups, and 304 control subjects. One patient infected with serogroup O157 and 7 infected with non-O157 serogroups developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. Compared with control subjects, case patients infected with STEC O157 were more likely to eat hamburgers, visit restaurants, have previously used antibiotics, or have family occupational exposure to red meat. Case patients infected with non-O157 STEC were more likely to eat sliced chicken meat or corned beef from a delicatessen, camp in the bush, eat catered meals, or have family occupational exposure to animals. Negative associations were observed for certain foods, particularly homegrown vegetables, fruits, or herbs.

Conclusion.This study of risk factors for STEC infection by serogroup highlights risks associated with eating hamburgers and occupational handling of raw meat. To prevent infection, hamburgers must be cooked thoroughly, and people handling raw meat or who have close contact with animals must ensure adequate hygiene.

Journal Article.  4475 words.  Illustrated.

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

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