Journal Article

Uropathogenic <i>Escherichia coli</i> Are More Likely than Commensal <i>E. coli</i> to Be Shared between Heterosexual Sex Partners

Betsy Foxman, Shannon D. Manning, Patricia Tallman, Richard Bauer, Lixin Zhang, James S. Koopman, Brenda Gillespie, Jack D. Sobel and Carl F. Marrs

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 156, issue 12, pages 1133-1140
Published in print December 2002 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online December 2002 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Uropathogenic Escherichia coli Are More Likely than Commensal E. coli to Be Shared between Heterosexual Sex Partners

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Because uropathogenic Escherichia coli are better adapted than other E. coli to the urethra, periurethra, and vagina, the authors reasoned that uropathogenic E. coli would be more likely than commensal E. coli to be shared between sex partners. In this 1996–1999 Michigan study, the genetic identity of E. coli isolated from 166 women with E. coli urinary tract infection (UTI) and 94 women without UTI and their sex partners was determined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Rectal isolates were considered uropathogenic E. coli if genetically identical to the urinary isolate causing UTI. All eight urinary isolates from men with UTI partners were identical to the E. coli found in the urine or vagina of their sex partner. When the 550 unique rectal E. coli isolates from couples were considered the unit of analysis, E. coli that caused UTI were nine times (odds ratio (OR) = 8.87, 95% confidence interval (CI): 5.41, 14.54) more likely than other E. coli to be shared between sex partners. Sharing occurred twice as frequently (OR = 1.87, 95% CI: 1.13, 3.08) if the E. coli had P pili or if the couples engaged in oral sex (OR = 2.09, 95% CI: 1.09, 4.00). Uropathogenic E. coli are more likely than commensal E. coli to be shared with a current heterosexual sex partner. Both sexual behaviors and a bacterial virulence factor, P pili, modified sharing.

Keywords: disease transmission; Escherichia coli; sexual partners; urinary tract infections; Abbreviations: cfu, colony-forming unit; CI, confidence interval; OR, odds ratio; PFGE, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis; UTI, urinary tract infection.

Journal Article.  5605 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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