Detection of Escherichia coli O157:H7 by Immunomagnetic Separation and Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction

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Since 1983, when Escherichia coli O157:H7 was first recognised as a cause of hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), verotoxin-producing strains of E. coli (VTEC) have been identified as the cause of increasing numbers of cases of serious human illness (1,2). One of a number of large outbreaks in Scotland resulted in 20 deaths, and a massive outbreak in Japan affected more than 9000 people (3,4). In England and Wales, 90 % of VTEC cases are sporadic (5).