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      Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157, O26 and O111 in cattle faeces and hides in Italy


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          Ruminants are regarded as the natural reservoir for Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), especially of serogroup O157.

          Materials and methods

          During 2011 and 2012, 320 samples (160 faecal samples from the rectum and 160 hide samples from the brisket area) were collected from 160 cattle at slaughter in Northern Italy during warm months (May to October). Cattle were reared in different farms and their age at slaughter ranged between nine months and 15 years, most of them being culled cattle (median age: six years; average age: 4.6 years). Samples were tested by immunomagnetic-separation technique for E coli O157 and O26 and by a screening PCR for stx genes followed by cultural detection of STEC. The virulence genes stx1, stx2, eae, and e-hlyA were detected and among stx2-positive isolates the presence of the stx2a and stx2c variants was investigated.


          Twenty-one of 160 cattle (13.1 per cent; 95 per cent CI 8.3 to 19.4 per cent) were found to be faecal carriers of STEC. STEC O157 was found in 10 (6.3 per cent) samples, STEC O26 in six (3.8 per cent) and STEC O111 in one (0.6 per cent). Four isolates (2.5 per cent) were O not determined (OND). Six out of 160 (3.8 per cent; 95 per cent CI 1.4 to 8.0 per cent) hide samples were positive for STEC; four hides (2.5 per cent) were contaminated by STEC O157 and two (1.3 per cent) by STEC O26. In three cattle (1.9 per cent) STEC from both faeces and hides were detected. Among STEC O157, 87.5 per cent of them carried the stx2c gene and 12.5 per cent carried both stx1 and stx2c genes. No O157 isolate harboured stx2a variant. STEC O26 and O111 carried the stx1 gene only. One OND strain carried both the stx2a and stx2c genes.


          This study shows that STEC O157 from cattle can harbour the stx2c variant, which is associated with haemolytic uraemic syndrome in humans, and that cattle hides may be a source of human pathogenic STEC O157 and O26 in the slaughterhouse environment.

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          Most cited references58

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          Diarrheagenic Escherichia coli.

          Escherichia coli is the predominant nonpathogenic facultative flora of the human intestine. Some E. coli strains, however, have developed the ability to cause disease of the gastrointestinal, urinary, or central nervous system in even the most robust human hosts. Diarrheagenic strains of E. coli can be divided into at least six different categories with corresponding distinct pathogenic schemes. Taken together, these organisms probably represent the most common cause of pediatric diarrhea worldwide. Several distinct clinical syndromes accompany infection with diarrheagenic E. coli categories, including traveler's diarrhea (enterotoxigenic E. coli), hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic-uremic syndrome (enterohemorrhagic E. coli), persistent diarrhea (enteroaggregative E. coli), and watery diarrhea of infants (entero-pathogenic E. coli). This review discusses the current level of understanding of the pathogenesis of the diarrheagenic E. coli strains and describes how their pathogenic schemes underlie the clinical manifestations, diagnostic approach, and epidemiologic investigation of these important pathogens.
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            Associations between virulence factors of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli and disease in humans.

            Associations between known or putative virulence factors of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli and disease in humans were investigated. Univariate analysis and multivariate logistic regression analysis of a set of 237 isolates from 118 serotypes showed significant associations between the presence of genes for intimin (eae) and Shiga toxin 2 (stx2) and isolates from serotypes reported in humans. Similar associations were found with isolates from serotypes reported in hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic-uremic syndrome. The enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) hemolysin gene was significantly associated with isolates from serotypes found in severe diseases in univariate analysis but not in multivariate logistic regression models. A strong association between the intimin and EHEC-hemolysin genes may explain the lack of statistical significance of EHEC hemolysin in these multivariate models, but a true lack of biological significance of the hemolysin in humans or in disease cannot be excluded. This result warrants further investigations of this topic. Multivariate analysis revealed an interaction between the eae and stx2 genes, thus supporting the hypothesis of the synergism between the adhesin intimin and Shiga toxin 2. A strong statistical association was observed between the stx2 gene and severity of disease for a set of 112 human isolates from eight major serotypes. A comparison of 77 isolates of bovine origin and 91 human isolates belonging to six major serotypes showed significant associations of the genes for Shiga toxin 1 and EspP protease with bovine isolates and an increased adherence on HEp-2 cell cultures for human isolates, particularly from diarrheic patients and healthy persons.
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              Detection and characterization of Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli by using multiplex PCR assays for stx1, stx2, eaeA, enterohemorrhagic E. coli hlyA, rfbO111, and rfbO157.

              Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) comprises a diverse group of organisms capable of causing severe gastrointestinal disease in humans. Within the STEC family, certain strains appear to be of greater virulence for humans, for example, those belonging to serogroups O111 and O157 and those with particular combinations of other putative virulence traits. We have developed two multiplex PCR assays for the detection and genetic characterization of STEC in cultures of feces or foodstuffs. Assay 1 utilizes four PCR primer pairs and detects the presence of stx1, stx2 (including variants of stx2), eaeA, and enterohemorrhagic E. coli hlyA, generating amplification products of 180, 255, 384, and 534 bp, respectively. Assay 2 uses two primer pairs specific for portions of the rfb (O-antigen-encoding) regions of E. coli serotypes O157 and O111, generating PCR products of 259 and 406 bp, respectively. The two assays were validated by testing 52 previously characterized STEC strains and observing 100% agreement with previous results. Moreover, assay 2 did not give a false-positive O157 reaction with enteropathogenic E. coli strains belonging to clonally related serogroup O55. Assays 1 and 2 detected STEC of the appropriate genotype in primary fecal cultures from five patients with hemolytic-uremic syndrome and three with bloody diarrhea. Thirty-one other primary fecal cultures from patients without evidence of STEC infection were negative.

                Author and article information

                Vet Rec Open
                Vet Rec Open
                Veterinary Record Open
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                20 January 2015
                : 2
                : 1
                : e000061
                [1 ]Department of Veterinary Science, Unit of Food Hygiene, University of Parma , Parma, Italy
                [2 ]Department of Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety, Istituto Superiore di Sanità , Rome, Italy
                [3 ]National Health Service, Veterinary Service, Local Unit of Cremona, Italy
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Professor S Bonardi; silvia.bonardi@ 123456unipr.it
                Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions

                This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

                : 11 June 2014
                : 17 September 2014
                : 24 November 2014

                cattle,slaughter,verocytotoxigenic e coli (vtec)
                cattle, slaughter, verocytotoxigenic e coli (vtec)


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