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Keywords:

  • Enteropathogenic E. coli;
  • cattle;
  • virulence genes;
  • antibiotic resistance

Summary

Cattle faecal samples (n = 480) were collected from a cluster of 12 farms, and PCR screened for the presence of the intimin gene (eae). Positive samples were cultured, and colonies were examined for the presence of eae and verocytotoxin (vtx) genes. Colonies which were positive for the intimin gene and negative for the verocytotoxin genes were further screened using PCR for a range of virulence factors including bfpA, espA, espB, tir ehxA, toxB, etpD, katP, saa, iha, lpfAO157/OI-141 and lpfAO157/OI-154. Of the 480 faecal samples, 5.8% (28/480) were PCR positive, and one isolate was obtained from each. All 28 isolates obtained were bfpA negative and therefore atypical EPEC (aEPEC). The serotypes detected included O2:H27, O8:H36, O15:H2, O49:H+, O84:H28, O105:H7 and O132:H34 but half of the isolates could not be serogrouped using currently available antisera. Twenty-two (79%) of the isolates carried the tir gene but only 25% were espB positive, and all other virulence genes tested for were scarce or absent. Several isolates showed intermediate resistance to ciprofloxacin, kanamycin, nalidixic acid, minocycline and tetracycline; full resistance to nalidixic acid or tetracycline with one isolate (O−:H8) displaying resistance to aminoglycosides (kanamycin and streptomycin), quinolones (nalidixic acid) and sulphonamides. This study provides further evidence that cattle are a potential source of aEPEC and add to the very limited data currently available on virulence genes and antibiotic resistance in this pathogenic E. coli group in animals.