Diarrhoeal disease is a major public health concern, with over 500 000 childhood deaths recorded every year, (www.who.int). The leading cause of infantile diarrhoea is pathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC), characterised by watery diarrhoea which varies in levels of severity. In recent studies a growing incidence of asymptomatic EPEC carriage has been recognised in Asia and the Middle East, suggesting the possibility that communities may act as a reservoir for this microorganism, (Kader, 2009; Alikhani, Mirsalehian and Aslani, 2018). Using a combination of molecular biology and bioinformatic analysis, we aim to characterise asymptomatic strains from these regions, determine their key virulence factors and find new ways of combatting this pathotype. At present we have developed a diagnostic multiplex PCR which incorporates known virulence genes of diarrhoeagenic E. coli pathotypes for quick and simple detection of EPEC. Additionally, we have optimised an infection assay using HeLa cells to phenotypically characterise typical and atypical colonisation and also identified bacteriocins capable of killing EPEC.

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