Enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis was isolated from stool specimens of 8 of 44 diarrheic individuals (ages, 4 months to 69 years). The individuals had watery diarrhea and intestinal cramping; and infants had hyperthermia, vomiting, and blood in the stools. No recognized enteric pathogens were detected in seven of the eight diarrheic individuals positive for enterotoxigenic B. fragilis. The bacterium produced an enterotoxin detectable in concentrated broth that supported bacterial growth. Fifteen adult rabbits with ligated ceca developed fatal enteric disease following intraileal injection with 5 x 109 CFU of enterotoxigenic B. fragilis. Conversely, eight control rabbits injected with nonenterotoxigenic B. fragilis remained clinically normal. As few as 5 x 103 CFU of enterotoxigenic B. fragilis caused fatal enteric disease in the rabbit model. Disease in rabbits was characterized by mucoid, often hemorrhagic, diarrhea. The bacterium colonized the caudal small intestine and the colon of the rabbits and caused moderate to severe necrotizing colitis. Enterotoxigenic B. fragilis is widespread in the intestinal tract of diarrheic humans and is enteropathogenic in adult rabbits with ligated ceca. Its possible role in the enteric disease complex merits further study.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)