From 1997 to 2007, the Laboratory of Enteric Pathogens (LEP), Health Protection Agency, UK, received sera from 2148 patients for testing for antibodies to the LPS of verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) O157. A total of 676 (31.5 %) sera had antibodies binding the LPS of E. coli O157 and the majority of patients were below the age of 10 years, a trend observed for both males and females. Antibody-positive patients had haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) in 79.3 % of cases and most of these presented with the atypical (D-) form of HUS. Nine patients were shown to have antibodies to the LPS of E. coli belonging to serogroups 026 (4), O103 (2), O111 (1) and O145 (2) and one patient had antibodies to the somatic antigens of both E. coli O26 and O103. The serodiagnosis of infections with E. coli O157 and other VTEC continues to be an important adjunct to bacteriology. Where clinicians suspect the involvement of a VTEC in disease, patients' sera should be submitted to the LEP for analysis without delay.
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