Prevalence, serotypes and virulence genes of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli isolated from ovine and caprine milk and other dairy products in Spain.

Research paper by J J Rey, S S Sánchez, J E JE Blanco, J J Hermoso de Mendoza, M M Hermoso de Mendoza, A A García, C C Gil, N N Tejero, R R Rubio, J M JM Alonso

Indexed on: 02 Nov '05Published on: 02 Nov '05Published in: International Journal of Food Microbiology


The aim of this study was to determinate the prevalence, serotypes and virulence genes of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains isolated from different dairy products (DP) in Spain with the purpose of determining whether DP represent a potential source of STEC pathogenic for humans. A total of 502 DP were examined from 64 different ovine and caprine flocks and 6 dairy plants in Extremadura (Western Spain). Samples were collected monthly between March 2003 and June 2004 and included 360 unpasteurised milk obtained from the bulk tank, 103 fresh cheese curds and 39 cheeses. Samples obtained were examined for STEC using genotypic (PCR) methods. STEC strains were detected from 39 (10.8%) bulk tank, 4 (3.9%) fresh cheese curds and 2 (5%) cheese, whereas O157:H7 serotype were isolated from one (0.3%) bulk tank. A total of 9 STEC strains (O27:H18, O45:H38, O76:H19, O91:H28, O157:H7, ONT:H7, ONT:H9 and ONT:H21) were identified in this study. One of them, the serotype O27:H18, has not been reported previously as STEC. PCR showed that 3 strains carried stx1 genes, 5 possessed stx2 genes and 1 both stx1 and stx2. Whereas all STEC caprine isolates showed ehxA genes, only O157:H7 serotype showed eae virulence genes. The strain O157:H7 isolated possessed intimin type gamma1 and belonged to phage type 31. This study confirms that dairy product is an important reservoir of STEC pathogenic for humans.