Escherichia coli (E.coli) is a Gram negative rod-shaped bacteria commonly found in intestines of warm blooded animals. Majority of the E.coli strains are harmless, however certain strains are known to cause serious medical complications. These include gastrointestinal infections, cholecystitis, bacteremia, cholangitis, urinary tract infection (UTI), neonatal meningitis and pneumonia and mainly spreads through contaminated food or water. As this organism is found in intestinal tract of humans, it is considered as an indicator of fecal contamination.Hence food and water samples are regularly tested for E.coli to avoid foodborne infections.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates drinking and environmental water, while bottled water standards are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in the U.S. Membrane filtration, multiple tube fermentation and presence/absence (P/A) tests are approved for testing water samples for municipal water suppliers, waste water treatment plants, bottled water organizations and private well.
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Environmental E.Coli testing methods are further segmented as membrane filtration, multiple tube fermentation and enzyme substrate methods.Membrane filtration is the most widely used method for bacterial enumeration due its accuracy. However, increasing popularity of P/A tests is expected to alter the trend. P/A tests are qualitative tests based on enzyme-substrate reaction which produces colored product – an indication of E.coli in the sample. P/A tests cost less than USD 10 per test and do not require skilled laboratory personnel to perform the test. Further, the test does not require sophisticated laboratory setup for accurate results.IDEXX Laboratories leads the market with over 80% share.
Due to frequent outbreaks of E.coli infections across the globe, demand for rapid and accurate test kits is on the rise. Clinical testing methods for E.coli detection include polymerase chain reaction test, enzyme immunoassay, and others.Currently, enzyme immunoassay (EIA) kits account for the largest market share; however, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based tests have been the mainstay for testing specific drug resistant strain during epidemics.
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In 2011, Germany recorded a major outbreak of E.coli O104:H4 strain, in which 500 cases of hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) and more than 1,000 cases of enterohaemorrhagic E.coli (EHEC) were recorded. The epidemic had spread to other parts of Europe including Sweden, Austria, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. This event boosted the growth of global E.coli testing market in environment as well as clinical segments. Developing economies in Asia Pacific and Latin America were identified as the most attractive markets for future growth. Majority of the tests in these regions are performed using individual laboratory apparatus and consumables; while only about 40% of the tests use easy-to-use kits. China is currently improvising its infrastructure in order to avoid water crisis due to shortage high level of water pollution. India also has undertaken various initiatives to provide drinking water to rural parts of the country. These developments in water sector would also support the growth of E.coli testing market.
Key players in the environmental testing market include IDEXX Laboratories, Charm Sciences, HyServe GmbH & Co. KG, CPI International, while clinical testing market is governed by Abbott Laboratories, Becton, Dickinson and Company, Danaher Corporation, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. and Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.