Several coliform species other than Escherichia coli are often associated with and possibly responsible for acute and chronic diarrheal disease. Recent evidence suggests that non-Escherichia coli coliforms may be capable of colonizing the human intestine and producing enterotoxin(s) in high-yield. Whether these organisms are newly capable of causing disease because of infestation with extrachromosomal factors mediating pathogenicity or simply because of inherent pathogenic capabilities that have gone unrecognized, they pose a potential health hazard. Food, medical, and public health microbiologists should be aware that the non-E. coli coliforms contaminating foods may be potential enteropathogens. This possibility may make determination of their pathogenic capabilities even more important than identification of their taxonomic characteristics.

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