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July 1998

Epidemiology and Molecular Identification of Salmonella Infections in Children

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics and Pathology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Children's Hospital, Little Rock. Dr Kirby is now with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical School, Sinai Samaritan Medical, Milwaukee, Wis.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998;152(7):659-664. doi:10.1001/archpedi.152.7.659

Objective  To explore the role of foods and the environment in the development of infections with Salmonella in infants and children.

Design  Case-controlled survey and the use of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis to establish DNA fingerprint patterns.

Setting  Ambulatory and hospitalized patients at a children's hospital.

Patients or Other Participants  A consecutive sample of children younger than 4 years old who were infected with Salmonella and 3 age-matched controls per patient were to be surveyed. Of the 103 eligible cases of salmonellosis, 90 cases and 264 controls were included in the study.

Data Analysis  Univariate analysis was done using the Mantel-Haenszel χ2 test or the Fisher exact test. The Bonferroni correction was used for multiple comparisons. DNA fingerprints were inspected for identical banding.

Results  Results demonstrated similar diets between cases and controls with the exception of more potato or macaroni salad or coleslaw consumption in the control group (P<.001). DNA fingerprints of Salmonella newport and Salmonella typhimurium demonstrated that all cases were due to unique isolates except in 5 instances involving 12 patients. Seven of these patients could be connected geographically.

Conclusions  Most of the cases of salmonellosis in children younger than 4 years are of a sporadic nature and the major source of infection remains unidentified. For patients infected with identical isolates of Salmonella, a common food source could not be incriminated with the methods used. Environmental contamination or other sources of Salmonella are suggested by these epidemiological data.