[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), have emerged as food poisoning pathogens which can cause severe diseases in humans.
The aim of this study was to determinate the serotypes and virulence genes of STEC strains isolated from sheep in Spain, with the purpose of determining whether sheep represent a potential source of STEC pathogenic for humans. METHODS AND APPROACH: Faecal swabs obtained from 697 healthy lambs on 35 flocks in Spain during the years 2000 and 2001 were examined for STEC using phenotypic (Vero cells) and genotypic (PCR) methods.
STEC O157:H7 strains were isolated from seven (1%) animals in six flocks, whereas non-O157 STEC strains were isolated from 246 (35%) lambs in 33 flocks. A total of 253 ovine STEC strains were identified in this study. PCR showed that 110 (43%) strains carried stx(1) genes, 10 (4%) possessed stx(2) genes and 133 (53%) both stx(1) and stx(2). Enterohaemolysin (ehxA) and intimin (eae) virulence genes were detected in 120 (47%) and in 9 (4%) of the STEC strains. STEC strains belonged to 22 O serogroups and 44 O:H serotypes. However, 70% were of one of these six serogroups (O6, O91, O117, O128, O146, O166) and 71% belonged to only nine serotypes (O6:H10, O76:H19, O91:H-, O117:H-, O128:H-, O128:H2, O146:H21, O157:H7, O166:H28). A total of 10 new O:H serotypes not previously reported in STEC strains were found in this study. Seven strains of serotype O157:H7 possessed intimin type gamma1, and two strains of serotype O156:H- had the new intimin zeta. STEC O157:H7 strains were phage types 54 (four strains), 34 (two strains) and 14 (one strain).
This study confirms that healthy sheep are a major reservoir of STEC pathogenic for humans. However, because the eae gene is present only in a very small proportion of ovine non-O157 STEC, most ovine strains may be less pathogenic.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fecal swabs obtained from 1,300 healthy lambs in 93 flocks in Spain in 1997 were examined for Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC). STEC O157:H7 strains were isolated from 5 (0.4%) animals in 4 flocks, and non-O157 STEC strains were isolated from
462 (36%) lambs in 63 flocks. A total of 384 ovine STEC strains were characterized in this study. PCR showed that 213 (55%)
strains carried the stx1 gene, 10 (3%) possessed the stx2 gene, and 161 (42%) carried both the stx1 and the stx2 genes. Enterohemolysin (ehxA) and intimin (eae) virulence genes were detected in 106 (28%) and 23 (6%) of the STEC strains, respectively. The STEC strains belonged to 35
O serogroups and 64 O:H serotypes (including 18 new serotypes). However, 72% were of 1 of the following 12 serotypes: O5:H−,
O6:H10, O91:H−, O117:H−, O128:H−, O128:H2, O136:H20, O146:H8, O146:H21, O156:H−, O166:H28, and ONT:H21 (where NT is nontypeable).
Although the 384 STEC strains belonged to 95 different seropathotypes (associations between serotypes and virulence genes),
49% of strains belonged to only 11. O91:H− stx1 stx2 (54 strains) was the most common seropathotype, followed by O128:H− stx1 stx2 (33 strains) and O6:H10 stx1 (25 strains). Three strains of serotypes O26:H11, O156:H11, and OX177:H11 had intimin type β1; 5 strains of serotype O157:H7
possessed intimin type γ1; and 15 strains of serotypes O49:H−, O52:H12, O156:H− (12 strains), and O156:H25 had the new intimin,
intimin type ζ. The majority (82%) of ovine STEC strains belonged to serotypes previously found to be associated with human
STEC strains, and 51% belonged to serotypes associated with STEC strains isolated from patients with hemolytic-uremic syndrome.
Thus, this study confirms that healthy sheep are a major reservoir of STEC strains pathogenic for humans.