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Pseudomonas aeruginosa-associated Diarrheal Diseases in Children

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The gastrointestinal tract is not the common infection site of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The role of P. aeruginosa as a causative agent for diarrhea in children without preexisting disease is controversial.


From 2003 to 2012, we reviewed the records of 259 diarrheal patients less than 5 years of age whose stool culture grew P. aeruginosa. Virulence phenotypes of bacterial isolates were determined in vitro, including cytotoxicity, penetration and adherence to epithelial cells.


The presence of P. aeruginosa in children with diarrhea less than 5 years old is 0.91%. P. aeruginosa-associated diarrheal diseases were classified into 4 groups: Shanghai fever (enteric infection and sepsis) (5%), P. aeruginosa enterocolitis (15%), P. aeruginosa-related diarrhea (19%) and antibiotic-associated diarrhea (43%). The remaining patients had coinfection with other pathogens (18%). Shanghai fever was the most severe enteric disease with invasive infection and complications. The clinical features of P. aeruginosa enterocolitis were prolonged fever with bloody or mucoid diarrhea mimicking bacterial enterocolitis. The clinical features of P. aeruginosa-related diarrhea and antibiotic-associated diarrhea were similar to viral or toxin-mediated diarrhea. Compared with other P. aeruginosa-associated diarrheal diseases, patients with Shanghai fever were younger, usually infants, and the characteristic laboratory findings included leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, high C-reactive protein, hyponatremia and hyperglycemia. Except for Shanghai fever, antibiotic treatment is not recommended. Isolates from Shanghai fever were more cytotoxic and adherent than isolates from uncomplicated diarrheal patients.


P. aeruginosa could be an enteric pathogen even in healthy children. Young age and highly virulent bacterial strains were risk factors for Shanghai fever.
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Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa; children; diarrhea; enteric infection; shock

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2017

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