The relationship between enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli infection and environmental risk factors in Bilbeis, Egypt, 1981--1983

Peggy Lou Henderson, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Diarrheal disease associated with enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) infection is one of the major public health problems in many developing countries, especially in infants and young children. Because tests suitable for field laboratories have been developed only relatively recently, the literature on the environmental risk factors associated with ETEC is not as complete as for many other pathogens or for diarrhea of unspecified etiology. Data from a diarrheal disease surveillance project in rural Egypt in which stool samples were tested for a variety of pathogens, and in which an environmental questionnaire was completed for the same study households, provided an opportunity to test for an association between ETEC and various risk factors present in those households. ETEC laboratory-positive specimens were compared with ETEC laboratory-negative specimens for both symptomatic and asymptomatic children less than three years of age at the individual and household level using a case-comparison design. Individual children more likely to have LT infection were those who lived in HHs that had cooked food stored for subsequent consumption at the time of the visit, where caretakers used water but not soap to clean an infant after a diarrheal stool, and that had an indoor, private water source. LT was more common in HHs where the caretaker did not clean an infant with soap after a diarrheal stool, and where a sleeping infant was not covered with a net. At both the individual and HH level, LT was significantly associated with good water supply in terms of quantity and storage. ST was isolated more frequently at the individual level where a sleeping infant was covered with a net, where large animals were kept in or around the house, where water was always available and was not potable, and where the water container was not covered. At the HH level, the absence of a toilet or latrine and the indiscriminate disposal of animal waste decreased risk. Using animal feces for fertilizer, the presence of large animals, and poor water quality were associated with ST at both the individual and HH level. These findings are mostly consistent with those of other studies, and/or are biologically plausible, with the obvious exception of those from this study where poorer water supplies are associated with less infection, at least in the case of LT. More direct observation of how animal ownership and feces disposal relates to different types of water supply and usage might clarify mechanisms through which some ETEC infection could be prevented in similar settings.

Subject Area

Public health|Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Henderson, Peggy Lou, "The relationship between enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli infection and environmental risk factors in Bilbeis, Egypt, 1981--1983" (1990). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9109975.