Phenotypic and genotypic characteristics of non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) from Swiss cattle.Vet Microbiol. 2005 Jan 05; 105(1):37-45.VM
A total of 42 Shiga toxin-producing (STEC) strains from slaughtered healthy cattle in Switzerland were characterized by phenotypic and genotypic traits. The 42 sorbitol-positive, non-O157 STEC strains belonged to 26 O:H serotypes (including eight new serotypes) with four serotypes (O103:H2, O113:H4, O116:H-, ONT:H-) accounting for 38.1% of strains. Out of 16 serotypes previously found in human STEC (71% of strains), nine serotypes (38% of strains) were serotypes that have been associated with hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis showed that 18 (43%) strains carried the stx1 gene, 20 strains (48%) had the stx2 gene, and four (9%) strains had both stx1 and stx2 genes. Of strains encoding for stx2 variants, 63% were positive for stx2 subtype. Enterohemolysin (ehxA), intimin (eae), STEC autoagglutinating adhesin (saa) were detected in 17%, 21%, and 19% of the strains, respectively. Amongst the seven intimin-positive strains, one possessed intimin type beta1 (O5:H-), one intimin gamma1 (O145:H), one intimin gamma2/theta, (O111:H21), and four intimin epsilon (O103:H2). The strains belonged to 29 serovirotypes (association between serotypes and virulence factors). O103:H2 stx1eae-epsilon ehxA, O116:H- stx2, and ONT:H- stx2c were the most common accounting for 29% of the strains. Only one strain (2.4%) of serovirotype O145:H- stx1stx2eae-gamma1ehxA showed a pattern of highly virulent human strains. This is the first study providing characterization data of bovine non-O157 STEC in Switzerland, and underlining the importance of the determination of virulence factors (including intimin types) in addition to serotypes to assess the potential pathogenicity of these strains for humans.