Molecular typing and antibiotic sysceptibility patterns of enteropathogenic and shigatoxin producing Escherichia coli isolated from food handlers in three areas of Kenya

  • JO Oundo
  • Y Iijima
  • HI Boga
  • F Muli
  • S Kariuki


Objectives: To determine the aetiology, epidemiology and sanitary factors of carriage of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) and Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) in food-handlers working in tourist hotels in three popular tourist destinations in Kenya.
Design: Cross sectional laboratory based study.
Setting: Three tourist destinations of Nairobi, Malindi and Diani in Kenya.
Subjects: Food handlers who were working in hotels frequented by tourists in the three study sites.
Results: Overall, during the period of April 2003 to May 2004, a total of 1399 food handlers stool samples were collected and analysed. EPEC expressing the eaeA gene and STEC expressing the stx2 gene were detected in 11/1399 (0.8%) and 2/1399 (0.1%) of the study subjects respectively. The mean age of the subjects from whom EPEC and STEC were isolated was similar (32.6 years) to those from whom no EPEC and STEC were isolated (32.5 years). Prior use of antibiotics, water source and toilet types were not significantly associated with the isolation of EPEC and STEC (p>0.05). There were 11 resistance patterns with six isolates (6/13, 46.2%) showing multidrug resistance. High prevalence of resistance was observed to co-trimoxazole (55.6%), chloramphenicol (33.3%), ampicillin (22.2%) and tetracycline (22.2%). High concentrations of antibiotics were required to achieve MlC90 for tetracycline, (>64 mg ml-1) and ampicillin (>256 mg ml-1). Cluster analysis of the Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis profiles revealed that the EPEC and STEC isolates belonged to two main genotypes with 11 distinct DNA fragment profiles.
Conclusion: This is the first report in Africa on the isolation of STEC from food handlers working in tourist hotels. These food handlers who carry the STEC and EPEC could potentially infect tourists and other people through food or water contamination in the hotel settings and thus our findings are of great public health importance.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0012-835X