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Random information on the term “HEA”:
Hektoen enteric agar (HEK, HE or HEA) is a selective and differential agar primarily used to recover Salmonella and Shigella from patient specimens. HEA contains indicators of lactose fermentation and hydrogen sulfide production; as well as inhibitors to prevent the growth of Gram-positive bacteria. It is named after the Hektoen Institute in Chicago, where researchers developed the agar.
The definitive use of HEA is to discriminate between Shigella and Salmonella, although many other species may grow on these plates. However, while the other bacteria may be clinically relevant, the assay does not discriminate among them. Effectively, HEA uses a metabolic assay to divide colonies into “Salmonella and Shigella” and “everything else”. Use of these plates assumes that the user is not interested in other enteric pathogens such as Klebsiella or Escherichia.
The plates contain various sugar sources (lactose, sucrose, and salicin), none of which can be used by either Shigella or Salmonella, but the medium also includes peptone which can be used as a carbon source. Since most bacteria can use the sugars in preference to peptone, these “uninteresting” bacteria acidify the medium and turn a pH indicator yellow or red. Peptone metabolism by Shigella and Salmonella alkalises the medium, turning a pH indicator blue.