Comparison of Escherichia coli Isolates from humans, food, and farm and companion animals for presence of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli virulence markers.

Research paper by Shelton E SE Murinda, Lien T LT Nguyen, Tippi L TL Landers, F Ann FA Draughon, Alan G AG Mathew, Joseph S JS Hogan, K Larry KL Smith, Dale D DD Hancock, Stephen P SP Oliver

Indexed on: 05 Jul '05Published on: 05 Jul '05Published in: Foodborne pathogens and disease


The objective of this study was to characterize Escherichia coli isolates from dairy cows/feedlots, calves, mastitis, pigs, dogs, parrot, iguana, human disease, and food products for prevalence of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) virulence markers. The rationale of the study was that, isolates of the same serotypes that were obtained from different sources and possessed the same marker profiles, could be cross-species transmissible. Multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to detect presence of genes encoding Shiga toxin 1 and 2 (stx1 and stx2), H7 flagella (flicC), enterohemolysin (hly) and intimin (eaeA) in E. coli isolates (n = 400). Shiga toxin-producing isolates were tested for production of Shiga toxins (Stx1 and Stx2 and enterohemolysin. Of the E. coli O157:H7/H- strains, 150 of 164 (mostly human, cattle, and food) isolates were stx+. Sixty-five percent of O157 STEC produced both Stx1 and Stx2; 32% and 0.7% produced Stx2 or Stx1, respectively. Ninety-eight percent of O157 STEC had sequences for genes encoding intimin and enterohemolysin. Five of 20 E. coli O111, 4 of 14 O128 and 4 of 10 O26 were stx+ . Five of 6 stx+ O26 and O111 produced Stx1, however, stx+ O128 were Stx-negative. Acid resistance (93.3%) and tellurite resistance (87.3%) were common attributes of O157 STEC, whereas, non-O157 stx+ strains exhibited 38.5% and 30.8% of the respective resistances. stx-positive isolates were mostly associated with humans and cattle, whereas, all isolates from mastitis (n = 105), and pigs, dogs, parrot and iguanas (n = 48) were stx-negative. Multiplex PCR was an effective tool for characterizing STEC pathogenic profiles and distinguished STEC O157:H7 from other STEC. Isolates from cattle and human disease shared similar toxigenic profiles, whereas isolates from other disease sources had few characteristics in common with the former isolates. These data suggest interspecies transmissibility of certain serotypes, in particular, STEC O157:H7, between humans and cattle.