Emerging infectious colitis

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The present review will highlight recent advances in the knowledge of emerging pathogens causing infectious colitis and provide a description of the most important food-borne outbreaks.

Recent findings

Outbreaks of enteric disease caused by Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) continue to surprise with new epidemiological findings or changing virulence characteristics. These pathogens evolve to exploit novel opportunities for spread and transmission, such as fresh produce within the food chain, and generate new public health challenges. Organic sprouts were recently considered as the source responsible for a large German disease outbreak comprising 3842 patients. The outbreak strain was identified as an enteroaggregative STEC O104:H4 (EAggC), a rare hybrid pathogen that harbours the phage encoded Shiga toxin gene and antibiotic resistance in an EAggEC background. Clostridium difficile PCR ribotype 078 is emerging across Europe, causing severe disease outside healthcare facilities as well as disease in farm animals, indicating that the species border has been crossed. Although the global impact of cryptosporidiosis is less pronounced, these organisms have been responsible for large outbreaks of infectious diarrhoea, often not reported. Invasive listeriosis is a serious food-borne illness and was found recently in 28 US states affecting 147 patients, associated with eating contaminated cantaloupe. Outbreaks of gastroenteritis caused by Listeria monocytogenes are most likely severely underestimated. Centralized surveillance of food-borne enteropathogens is essential for the early detection of disease outbreaks and for the organization of an immediate and appropriate response.

Summary

An improved understanding of the pathogenesis, pathology and epidemiology of emerging enteropathogens causing infectious colitis will provide new approaches for disease prevention and control.

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