Enterotoxigenic strains of have recently been implicated in some cases of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea. We present here the results of an epidemiological study of this disease. Five cases of diarrhoea caused by serotype 41 occurred during a 9-week period, and then during a 6-week period there were three cases due to serotype 27 and two due to serotype 24; in all but one case two geriatric wards were involved. In total there were 16 cases in 22 months. All cases were identified by the detection of enterotoxin in the faeces. The mean number of in these cases was 10 cfu/g of faeces. Of 37 patients who had negative test results for enterotoxin, 18 had positive cultures for , with mean faecal counts of 10 cfu/g, and nine of these patients had diarrhoea. Thirteen different serotypes were isolated from these 18 patients, including type 41 from seven patients and type 27 from one. Hand carriage of the offending serotype was demonstrated in three of four infected patients, none of four controls and two of 14 ward staff. of serotypes causing disease was isolated from 59% of environmental areas where there was active disease, 27% of areas where there had been disease which had since resolved and 9% of areas where there was no history of disease. The findings imply that cross infection may occur.


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