The prevalence of diarrheagenic Escherichia coli in childhood diarrhea and the role of contaminated food products in disease transmission in Colombia are largely unknown. The aim of this study is to identify E. coli pathotypes, including E. coli O157:H7, from 108 stool samples from children with acute diarrhea, 38 meat samples and 38 vegetable samples. Multiplex PCR and Bax Dupont systems were used for E. coli pathotype detection. Eighteen (9.8%) E. coli diarrheagenic pathotypes were detected among all clinical and food product samples tested. Four different pathotypes were identified from clinical samples, including enteroaggregative E. coli, enterotoxigenic E. coli, shiga-toxin producing E. coli, and enteropathogenic E. coli. Food product samples were positive for enteroaggregative and shiga-toxin producing E. coli, suggesting that meat and vegetables may be involved in transmission of these E. coli pathotypes in the community. Most E. coli strains identified belong to the phylogenetic groups A and B1, known to be associated with intestinal rather than extraintestinal E. coli clones. Our data is the first molecular E. coli report that confirms the presence of E. coli pathotypes circulating in Colombia among children with diarrhea and food products for human consumption. Implementation of multiplex PCR technology in Latin America and other countries with limited resources may provide an important epidemiological tool for the surveillance of E. coli pathotypes from clinical isolates as well as from water and food product samples.
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