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Escherichia coli O157:H7 is the largest cause of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Previous studies proposed that HUS risk varies across the E. coli O157:H7 phylogenetic tree (hypervirulent clade 8), but the role of age in the association is unknown. We determined phylogenetic lineage of E. coli O157:H7 isolates from 1160 culture-confirmed E. coli O157:H7 cases reported in Washington State, 2004–2015. Using generalised estimating equations, we tested the association between phylogenetic lineage and HUS. Age was evaluated as an effect modifier. Among 1082 E. coli O157:H7 cases with both phylogenetic lineage and HUS status (HUS n = 76), stratified analysis suggested effect modification by age. Lineages IIa and IIb, relative to Ib, did not appear associated with HUS in children 0–9-years-old. For cases 10–59-years-old, lineages IIa and IIb appeared to confer increased risk of HUS, relative to lineage Ib. The association reversed in ⩾60-year-olds. Results were similar for clade 8. Phylogenetic lineage appears to be associated with HUS risk only among those ⩾10-years-old. Among children <10, the age group most frequently affected, lineage does not explain progression to HUS. However, lineage frequency varied across age groups, suggesting differences in exposure and/or early disease manifestation.
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