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TWELVE YEARS after Escherichia coli O157:H7 debuted on the public health scene, experts concede that glaring gaps in medical and scientific knowledge of the pathogen still exist.
In its report last month on curbing new infections or at least easing their toll, an expert panel convened by the American Gastroenterological Association Foundation suggested future avenues for research. Their recommendations point to the need for new or continuing studies in five areas:
The pathogenesis of E coli 0157: H7 infections.
Animal and environmental reservoirs.
Methods of rapid diagnosis and detection.
Therapy and prevention.
The significance of non-O157:H7 E coli that produce the same or a similar type of toxin.
Why Is O157:H7 So Virulent?
More than 150 E coli OH serotypes (O identifies the somatic antigen, and H notes the flagellar) have been isolated from humans. Among them, the 0157: H7 strain is most frequently linked with both disease epidemics and
Voelker R. New Strategies Aimed at E coli O157:H7. JAMA. 1994;272(7):503. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520070015007