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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 23-27
Original Article

The Isolation Rate of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 in Toronto and Surrounding Communities

Andrew E Simor,1,2 Christine Watt, and Donald E Low1

1Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2Med-Chem Laboratories, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Received 12 February 1990; Accepted 4 April 1990

Copyright © 1990 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Verocytotoxin-producing strains of Escherichia coli, most often serotype 0157:H7, have been associated with both sporadic and epidemic diarrheal disease in Canada. In order to determine the isolation rate of E coli 0157:H7 in outpatients with diarrhea, all stool specimens submitted for culture to Med-Chem Laboratories in Metropolitan Toronto between June 1988 and September 1989 were cultured on MacConkey-Sorbitol agar in addition to standard enteric media. A total of 46 (0.3%) of 16,125 stool specimens yielded E coli 0157:H7 or verotoxin-producing E coli 0157:H. These isolates came from 31 patients with diarrhea; only 16 (52%) had a history of hemorrhagic colitis and one patient developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. Although MacConkey-Sorbitol agar was useful as a differential medium for detecting E coli 0157:H7, 14.5% of all specimens yielded nonsorbitol-fermenting isolates. It is not certain whether the routine use of MacConkey-Sorbitol agar is justified when isolation rates of E coli 0157:117 are very low.