Bloody Diarrhea and Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome in Children: Data from the ItalKid-HUS Network.J Pediatr. 2021 Oct; 237:34-40.e1.JPed
To analyze the results of an enhanced laboratory-surveillance protocol for bloody diarrhea aimed at identifying children with Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infection early in the course of the disease toward the early identification and management of patients with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
The study (2010-2019) involved a referral population of 2.3 million children. Stool samples of patients with bloody diarrhea were screened for Shiga toxin (Stx) genes. Positive patients were rehydrated and monitored for hemoglobinuria until diarrhea resolved or STEC-HUS was diagnosed.
A total of 4767 children were screened; 214 (4.5%) were positive for either Stx1 (29.0%) or Stx2 (45.3%) or both Stx1+2 (25.7%); 34 patients (15.9%) developed STEC-HUS (0.71% of bloody diarrheas). Hemoglobinuria was present in all patients with HUS. Patients with Stx2 alone showed a greater risk of STEC-HUS (23.7% vs 12.7%) and none of the patients with Stx1 alone developed HUS. During the same period of time, 95 other patients were diagnosed STEC-HUS but were not captured by the screening program (26 had nonbloody diarrhea, 11 came from areas not covered by the screening program, and 58 had not been referred to the screening program, although they did meet the inclusion criteria). At HUS presentation, serum creatinine of patients identified by screening was significantly lower compared with that of the remaining patients (median 0.9 vs 1.51 mg/dL).
Nearly 1% of children with bloody diarrhea developed STEC-HUS, and its diagnosis was anticipated by the screening program for Stx. The screening of bloody diarrhea for Stx is recommended, and monitoring patients carrying Stx2 with urine dipstick for hemoglobinuria is suggested to identify the renal complication as early as possible.