Faecal specimens from 66 children with haemolytic uraemic syndrome in the United Kingdom were examined for strains of producing Vero cytotoxin (VT). Initially, conventional bacteriological methods were used to identify colonies of which were then tested for VT production. Subsequently, specific DNA probes for VT1 and VT2 were used in hybridisation tests to detect VT-producing E. coli (VTEC). VTEC strains were isolated from 19 cases and in 15 they belonged to serogroup O157. Fourteen of these O157 strains possessed the flagellar antigen H7 and one was non-motile. The VTEC strains from the remaining four cases belonged to serotypes O26:H11, O104:H2, O153:H25, and O163:H19 together with a rough VT strain with flagellar antigen H51. The O157 strains hybridised with either the VT2 probe or both VT1 and VT2 probes. The other VTEC strains hybridised with either the VT1 or VT2 probe. Confirmation of the production of VT1 and VT2 was obtained by the neutralisation of faecal VT with specific antisera raised against these two cytotoxins.


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