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Prevalence and characteristics of Escherichia coil serotype O157:H7 and other verotoxin-producing E. coli in healthy cattle

  • M. Blanco (a1), J. E. Blanco (a1), J. Blanco (a1), E. A. Gonzalez (a1), A. Mora (a1), C. Prado (a1), L. Fernandez (a1), M. Rio (a1), J. Ramos (a2) and M. P. Alonso (a3)...

Summary

From February to July of 1994, 328 faecal samples from 32 herds were collected and verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) found on 84% of the farms. The proportion of animals infected varied from 0–63%. VTEC were recovered from 52 (20%) of 257 cows and from 16 (23%) of 71 calves. Although the VTEC belonged to 25 different serogroups, 7 (O8. O20, O22, O77, O113, O126 and O162) accounted for 46% of strains. Nearly 45% of the 83 bovine VTEC strains belonged to serogroups associated with haemorrhagic colitis and haemolytic uraernic syndrome in humans. However, only 2 (2%) of 83 VTEC strains isolated from cattle belonged to enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) serotypes (O26:H11 and O157:H7), and only 8 (10%) were positive for the attaching and effacing E. coli (eae) gene sequence. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) showed that 17 (20%) of VTEC strains carried VT1 genes. 43 (52%) possessed VT2 genes, and 23 (28%) carried both VT1 and VT2 genes. Characterization of VTEC isolates revelated a heterogeneous population in terms of serogroup and toxin type in the positive herds. This study confirms that healthy cattle are a reservoir of VTEC, but, the absence of eae genes in most bovine VTEC strains suggests that they may be less virulent for humans than eae-positive EHEC.

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References

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