During a survey examining the causes of diarrhea in the East African country of Djibouti, 140 bacterial pathogens were recovered from 209 diarrheal and 100 control stools. The following pathogens were isolated at comparable frequencies from both diarrheal and control stools: enteroadherent Escherichia coli (EAEC) (10.6 versus 13%), enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) (11 versus 10%), enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) (7.7 versus 12%), Salmonella spp. (2.9 versus 3%), and Campylobacter jejuni-C. coli (3.3 versus 5%). Surprisingly, the EAEC strains isolated did not correspond to well-recognized EPEC serogroups. No Yersinia spp., enteroinvasive E. coli, or enterohemorrhagic E. coli were isolated during the course of this study. Only the following two genera were recovered from diarrheal stools exclusively: Shigella spp. (7.7%) and Aeromonas hydrophila group organisms (3.3%). Shigella flexneri was the most common Shigella species isolated. Patients with Shigella species were of a higher average age than were controls (27 versus 13 years), while subjects with Campylobacter or Salmonella species belonged to younger age groups (2.6 and 1.6 years, respectively). Salmonella cases were more often in females. Shigella diarrhea was associated with fecal blood or mucus and leukocytes. ETEC was not associated with nausea or vomiting. Anorexia, weight loss, and fever were associated with the isolation of Salmonella and Aeromonas species. EAEC, ETEC, EPEC, and Shigella species were resistant to most drugs used for treating diarrhea in Africa, while the antibiotic most active against all bacteria tested was norfloxacin. We conclude that in Djibouti in 1989, Shigella and Aeromonas species must be considered as potential pathogens whenever they are isolated from diarrheal stools and that norfloxacin should be considered the drug of choice in adults for treating severe shigellosis and for diarrhea prophylaxis in travelers
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