Common virulence factors and genetic relationships between O18:K1:H7 Escherichia coli isolates of human and avian origin.J Clin Microbiol. 2006 Oct; 44(10):3484-92.JC
Extraintestinal pathogenic (ExPEC) Escherichia coli strains of serotype O18:K1:H7 are mainly responsible for neonatal meningitis and sepsis in humans and belong to a limited number of closely related clones. The same serotype is also frequently isolated from the extraintestinal lesions of colibacillosis in poultry, but it is not well known to what extent human and avian strains of this particular serotype are related. Twenty-two ExPEC isolates of human origin and 33 isolates of avian origin were compared on the basis of their virulence determinants, lethality for chicks, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns, and classification in the main phylogenetic groups. Both avian and human isolates were lethal for chicks and harbored similar virulence genotypes. A major virulence pattern, identified in 75% of the isolates, was characterized by the presence of F1 variant fimbriae; S fimbriae; IbeA; the aerobactin system; and genomic fragments A9, A12, D1, D7, D10, and D11 and by the absence of P fimbriae, F1C fimbriae, Afa adhesin, and CNF1. All but one of the avian and human isolates also belonged to major phylogenetic group B2. However, various subclonal populations could be distinguished by PFGE in relation to animal species and geographical origin. These results demonstrate that very closely related clones can be recovered from extraintestinal infections in humans and chickens and suggest that avian pathogenic E. coli isolates of serotype O18:K1:H7 are potential human pathogens.