Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli O78:H10, the cause of an outbreak of urinary tract infection

Bente Olesen, Flemming Scheutz, Rebecca L. Andersen, Megan Menard, Nadia Boisen, Brian Johnston, Dennis S. Hansen, Karen A. Krogfelt, James P. Nataro, James R. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


In 1991, multiresistant Escherichia coli O78:H10 strains caused an outbreak of urinary tract infections in Copenhagen, Denmark. The phylogenetic origin, clonal background, and virulence characteristics of the outbreak isolates, and their relationship to nonoutbreak O78:H10 strains according to these traits and resistance profiles, are unknown. Accordingly, we extensively characterized 51 archived E. coli O78:H10 isolates (48 human isolates from seven countries, including 19 Copenhagen outbreak isolates, and 1 each of calf, avian, and unknown-source isolates), collected from 1956 through 2000. E. coli O78:H10 was clonally heterogeneous, comprising one dominant clonal group (61% of isolates, including all 19 outbreak isolates) from ST10 (phylogenetic group A) plus several minor clonal groups (phylogenetic groups A and D). All ST10 isolates, versus 25% of non-ST10 isolates, were identified by molecular methods as enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) (P < 0.001). Genes present in >90% of outbreak isolates included fimH (type 1 fimbriae; ubiquitous in E. coli); fyuA, traT, and iutA (associated with extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli [ExPEC]); and sat, pic, aatA, aggR, aggA, ORF61, aaiC, aap, and ORF3 (associated with EAEC). An outbreak isolate was lethal in a murine subcutaneous sepsis model and exhibited characteristic EAEC "stacked brick" adherence to cultured epithelial cells. Thus, the 1991 Copenhagen outbreak was caused by a tight, non-animal-associated subset within a broadly disseminated O78:H10 clonal group (ST10; phylogenetic group A), members of which exhibit both ExPEC and EAEC characteristics, whereas O78:H10 isolates overall are phylogenetically diverse. Whether ST10 O78:H10 EAEC strains are both uropathogenic and diarrheagenic warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3703-3711
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012

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