Meridian tests detect toxins produced by E. coli strain plaguing Europe

Food safety has been in the news recently. Last week, we reported on France's bioMerieux, which focuses on food safety--encompassing prevention, detection and quality assurance. On Friday, Meridian Bioscience announced that its tests detect the toxins produced by the recent outbreak strain E. coli O104:H4, the novel shiga toxin-producing strain that has caused sickness and deaths in Europe.

In the U.S., one confirmed and three suspected cases of E. coli O104:H4 infections have been identified in persons who recently went to Germany. One case of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), kidney failure associated with the infection, has been confirmed as matching the German outbreak strain. Meridian has conducted testing on clinical isolates from one of these clinical samples using its two distinct tests for shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), which are common foodborne contaminants. It is the shiga toxins that the organisms produce--shiga toxin 1 or shiga toxin 2--that cause serious complications in the infected person. Meridian's Premier EHEC--cleared by the FDA in April 1995--and ImmunoCard STAT! EHEC--cleared by the FDA in February of 2007--detect both toxin types. ImmunoCard STAT! EHEC provides an additional advantage in that the test differentiates between shiga toxin 1 and shiga toxin 2. Rapid identification of the toxin 2 type will enable physicians to immediately isolate and appropriately treat infected patients to reduce the likelihood for the development of HUS.

"Meridian will continue to support global demands by ensuring these kits are available in all regions where they are needed to detect and control infection," Richard Eberly, Meridian's chief commercial officer, said in a statement.

- see the Meridian statement