AIMS: To determine the prevalence of Aeromonas spp in the faeces of children and the association with symptoms of gastroenteritis. METHODS: Faecal specimens (n = 1026) were cultured for Aeromonas spp using three selective media and an enrichment broth at both 30 degrees C and 37 degrees C. The isolation of Aeromonas spp was correlated with symptoms of gastroenteritis, previous antibiotic use, and environmental temperature. RESULTS: Aeromonas spp (n = 28) from 26 (2.5%) patients were recovered. Bile salt, Irgasan, and brilliant green agar was the most efficient selective culture medium. Eleven of the patients had symptoms of gastroenteritis, usually mild diarrhoea of two to three days' duration, in the absence of other recognised enteropathogens. A caviae was a particularly frequent isolate (nine out of 11 cases) in symptomatic individuals. Only one out of seven Aeromonas spp recovered by enrichment culture alone was possibly associated with symptoms of gastroenteritis. There was a close correlation between the environmental temperature and isolation of Aeromonas spp. CONCLUSIONS: Aeromonas spp and particularly A caviae may cause gastroenteritis in children, most often during warmer months of the year. Culture for these potential enteropathogens could be confined to summer and autumn months. Bile salt, Irgasan, and brilliant green selective agar, but not alkaline peptone water enrichment, is an efficient culture medium for recovering possibly clinically important isolates.
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