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Multiplex PCR reveals a high prevalence of multiple pathogens in traveller’s diarrhoea in children


Objective Traveller’s diarrhoea (TD) is one of the most frequent illnesses affecting children returning from tropical countries. The purpose of this study was to assess the distribution of pathogens associated with TD in children using a multiplex PCR assay on stool samples.

Design All the children admitted for TD in two university hospitals from 1 August to 15October during 2014 and 2015 were included in a prospective study. Stool samples were tested by a multiplex PCR FilmArray GI panel detecting 22 pathogens. Performances for the detection of major enteropathogenic bacteria (Salmonella, Shigella and Campylobacter spp) by multiplex PCR and conventional culture methods were compared. The prevalence of extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae was also determined.

Results Fifty-nine children were included. In 58 cases (98%), at least one pathogen was identified, including 9 different enteropathogenic bacteria, 5 viruses and 2 parasites. Multiplex PCR enhanced the enteropathogenic bacteria detection by 25%. The most frequent pathogens were enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (n=32), enteropathogenic E. coli (n=26), enterotoxigenic E. coli (n=19), Salmonella enterica, enteroinvasive E. coli/Shigella (n=16 each), Cryptosporidium, sapovirus (n=11 each), Campylobacter jejuni, norovirus (n=10 each), rotavirus (n=9), Giardia (n=8) and Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli (n=4). Fifty-two coinfections were observed, notably including bacteria and viruses (n=21), multiple bacteria (n=14), or bacteria and parasites (n=10). ESBL were detected in 28 cases. Multiplex PCR could optimise the number of treated patients by 27% compared with stool cultures.

Conclusion Multiplex PCR on stools revealed a high prevalence of diverse enteric pathogens and coinfections in children with TD. Major enteropathogenic bacteria were more frequently detected by multiplex PCR compared with conventional culture. Finally, this technique allows the start of appropriate and early antibiotic treatment and seems to optimise the number of correctly treated patients.

  • tropical inf dis
  • epidemiology
  • tropical paediatrics
  • gastroenterology
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