The importance of enteroaggregative (EAggEC) as a possible aetiological agent of acute diarrhoea among children in Calcutta, India, was investigated. Simultaneously the use of a previously described PCR diagnostic system was assessed for its ability to identify EAggEC infection. strains isolated during a 1-year case-control study from faecal samples of 388 children aged <5 years, with or without diarrhoea, were examined for EAggEC by HeLa cell adherence assay in parallel with a PCR assay with primers generated from an EAggEC DNA probe. A blind comparison was made between the two methods to determine their diagnostic potential. isolates that adhered to HeLa cells in an aggregative pattern were the sole isolates significantly more often in 254 cases (9%) than in 134 control (2%) children. Age stratification showed that EAggEC were isolated more frequently from children aged <36 months. The EAggEC isolates belonged to several O serogroups and showed multiple drug resistance. Both methods were positive for 26 samples, nine samples were positive by PCR alone and seven samples were positive by culture alone, thus indicating a 78% sensitivity and 97% specificity for the PCR assay. EAggEC is an important aetiological agent of acute diarrhoea among infants in and around Calcutta, and the PCR diagnostic system may be useful to identify such infection in epidemiological studies.


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