During a 15-year period, 146 strains of spp. were isolated from 32810 faecal specimens from 13820 hospitalised patients up to 13 years of age. These isolates constituted 4% of all the pathogenic bacterial strains cultured. For the years 1978–1988, the files of children with gastro-enteritis revealed 81 whose faeces yielded spp. Most of them (94%) were < 3 years of age, 78% < 1 year old. The peak incidence was at 2–6 months, involving severe morbidity including dehydration and vomiting with acidaemia and azotaemia; the mean duration of illness and length of hospitalisation at this age were longer than at other ages. Bloody diarrhoea was found in 7% of the children. Almost all the strains of were resistant to ampicillin. We conclude that spp. are of aetiological significance in gastro-enteritis in small children; culture for this pathogen should be routine in the bacteriological examination of faeces.


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