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August 17, 1994

Panel Calls E coli Screening Inadequate

JAMA. 1994;272(7):501. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520070013006

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HOPING TO REDUCE unnecessary medical treatment and strengthen the detection of disease outbreaks, an expert panel has recommended widespread culturing of laboratory specimens for Escherichia coli O157:H7.

The panel, sponsored by the American Gastroenterological Association Foundation, met last month in Washington, DC. After hearing testimony from experts in medicine, public health, the food industry, and federal regulatory agencies, the panel produced a report with recommendations to stem "a major national problem."

Who's Getting Sick, and Why?  From 1982, when the virulent O157:H7 strain was identified as a human pathogen, through 1992, only two to three outbreaks were investigated each year in the United States. The figure jumped to 16 in 1993; 11 outbreaks during the first half of this year are being studied.Some of the increase is attributed to growing awareness, but the panel said the actual number of infections appears to be rising. It is estimated that E

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