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Cronobacter: an emerging opportunistic pathogen associated with neonatal meningitis, sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis.

Members of the genus Cronobacter are an emerging group of opportunist Gram-negative pathogens. This genus was previously thought to be a single species, called Enterobacter sakazakii. Cronobacter spp. typically affect low-birth-weight neonates, causing life-threatening meningitis, sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis. Outbreaks of disease have been associated with contaminated infant formula, although the primary environmental source remains elusive. Advanced understanding of these bacteria and better classification has been obtained by improved detection techniques and genomic analysis. Research has begun to characterize the virulence factors and pathogenic potential of Cronobacter. Investigations into sterilization techniques and protocols for minimizing the risk of contamination have been reviewed at national and international forums. In this review, we explore the clinical impact of Cronobacter neonatal and pediatric infections, discuss virulence and pathogenesis, and review prevention and treatment strategies.

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