Of 70 black South African infants and children with acute summer diarrhoea, 30 (43%) were infected with enteropathogenic serogroups of Escherichia coli (EPEC), 13 (19%) with enterotoxigenic Gram-negative bacilli, 12 (17%) with Salmonella sp., 6 (9%) with Shigella sp., and 3 (4%) with rotaviruses. 13 (19%) patients were infected simultaneously with more than one enteropathogen, and no pathogen was detected in 22 (31%). In addition, 6 (15%) of 41 unselected patients were excreting Campylobacter fetus. Of 30 age-matched controls drawn from the same population, 5 (17%) were infected with EPEC serotypes, and 1 each with Salmonella sp. and rotavirus. This study stresses the polymicrobial nature of paediatric diarrhoea in a developing community and shows the continued importance of EPEC in this setting.
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