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      Does Enterococcus faecalis from Traditional Raw Milk Cheeses Serve as a Reservoir of Antibiotic Resistance and Pathogenic Traits?

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          Abstract

          Enterococcus faecalis is not only a prevalent species among dairy microbial community but also a well-documented opportunistic pathogen. Food safety should exclude the possibility of consumer exposure to its virulence traits through consumption of dairy products. In this study, an integrated approach based on both phenotypic and genotypic methods was applied to investigate the incidence of antibiotic resistance and pathogenicity potential in 40 E. faecalis isolated from 10 Italian raw milk cheeses over a 13-year period (1997-2009). Among the 14 tested antibiotics, resistance to tetracycline, rifampicin, chloramphenicol, and erythromycin was observed, whereas vancomycin-resistant enterococci were not found. A high incidence (90% of strains) of the tet(M) gene emerged, whereas tet(K), tet(S), tet(L), int, and ermB genes were occasionally amplified (12.5%, 10%, 7.5%, 2.5% and 30%, respectively). No strain was positive for vancomycin-resistant determinants. Among the seven virulence determinants considered, the asa1, gelE, esp, and efaA genes were harbored. No other gene encoding for either different virulence factors (cylA, hyl, and ace) or amino acid decarboxylase activity (hdc, tdc, and odc) was detected. Consequently, E. faecalis isolated from raw milk cheeses does not represent a substantial reservoir of antimicrobial resistance and virulence factors if compared with clinical strains. However, this species occasionally harbors detrimental traits; thus, the possibility that it could be a route for transmission of pathogenic genes through dairy products should never be disregarded.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Foodborne Pathog. Dis.
          Foodborne pathogens and disease
          Mary Ann Liebert Inc
          1556-7125
          1535-3141
          May 2019
          : 16
          : 5
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Institute of Sciences of Food Production, Italian National Research Council, Milan, Italy.
          Article
          10.1089/fpd.2018.2542
          30741557

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