Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are enteric pathogens that cause hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). Ruminants, especially cattle, are their main reservoir. This study describes the seroepidemiology of STEC in rural and urban populations in Argentina, a country with a high HUS incidence.
A cross-sectional study was performed in patients without gastrointestinal symptoms. IgG antibodies against Stx2 were detected by western blotting.
Anti-Stx2 antibodies were detected in 14.56% of serum samples, more frequently in rural (19.38%) than urban residents (12%). Seropositivity was associated with lower socioeconomic status (SES). Among the other variables considered, thawing homemade hamburgers before cooking them, and the lack of knowledge about HUS were also associated with seropositivity. A multivariate logistic regression analysis performed with the variables that were statistically significant showed that only the SES index remained significant. As SES was measured based on several variables, we further analyzed each one of them and found that the lack of a high education level was statistically associated with seropositivity.
The present findings have implications for STEC prevention efforts, highlighting the importance of considering SES and risks factors linked to different SES levels when targeting consumer-level public health interventions.