Enteropathogenic Bacteria Associated with Diarrhea among Infants in Panamá

Miguel KouranyGorgas Memorial Laboratory, Panamá, Republic of Panamá

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Manuel A. VásquezGorgas Memorial Laboratory, Panamá, Republic of Panamá

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A total of 1,819 infants with diarrhea were examined in Panamá for the presence of enteropathogenic bacteria. Results of the single rectal-swab cultures from these patients revealed a very low prevalence (7.9%) of all pathogens. Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli accounted for 5.3%, Shigella for 1.7%, and Salmonella for 1.2%. Serotypes of the enteropathogens isolated were determined; E. coli 055:B5 was found in 35.4% of the instances of isolation of E. coli. Enteropathogenic E. coli and Salmonella were isolated from infants with diarrhea only, as well as from infants with diarrhea and other symptoms. On the other hand, Shigella infections were not encountered in infants with diarrhea alone. Shigellosis occurred in the more severely ill infants, in whom other symptoms accompanied the diarrhea. When the diarrheal cases were grouped by severity of symptoms, the highest rate of infection (12%) was found in the dehydrated infants. Isolations were all from acute, sporadic cases throughout Panamá City, suggesting that the source of infection was not localized.

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