Tropheryma whipplei in children with gastroenteritis

Emerg Infect Dis. 2010 May;16(5):776-82. doi: 10.3201/eid1605.091801.


Tropheryma whipplei, which causes Whipple disease, is found in human feces and may cause gastroenteritis. To show that T. whipplei causes gastroenteritis, PCRs for T. whipplei were conducted with feces from children 2-4 years of age. Western blotting was performed for samples from children with diarrhea who had positive or negative results for T. whipplei. T. whipplei was found in samples from 36 (15%) of 241 children with gastroenteritis and associated with other diarrheal pathogens in 13 (33%) of 36. No positive specimen was detected for controls of the same age (0/47; p = 0.008). Bacterial loads in case-patients were as high as those in patients with Whipple disease and significantly higher than those in adult asymptomatic carriers (p = 0.002). High incidence in patients and evidence of clonal circulation suggests that some cases of gastroenteritis are caused or exacerbated by T. whipplei, which may be co-transmitted with other intestinal pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actinomycetales Infections / epidemiology
  • Actinomycetales Infections / microbiology*
  • Actinomycetales Infections / physiopathology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Diarrhea / microbiology
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Gastroenteritis / epidemiology
  • Gastroenteritis / microbiology*
  • Gastroenteritis / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tropheryma / genetics
  • Tropheryma / isolation & purification*


  • DNA, Bacterial