Virulence gene profiles of avian pathogenic Escherichia coli isolated from chickens with colibacillosis in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.Onderstepoort J Vet Res. 2015 04 07; 82(1):e1-e8.OJ
Colibacillosis, a disease caused by avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC), is one of the main causes of economic losses in the poultry industry worldwide. This study was carried out in order to determine the APEC-associated virulence genes contained by E. coli isolates causing colibacillosis in chickens. A total of 45 E. coli isolates were obtained from the diagnostics and research branch of the Central Veterinary Laboratories, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. These isolates were obtained from chickens with confirmed cases of colibacillosis after postmortem examination. The presence of the iutA, hlyF, ompT, frz, sitD, fimH, kpsM, sitA, sopB, uvrY, pstB and vat genes were investigated by multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. Of the 45 isolates, 93% were positive for the presence of at least one virulence gene. The three most prevalent virulence genes were iutA (80%), fimH (33.3%) and hlyF (24.4%). The kpsM, pstB and ompT genes had the lowest prevalence, having been detected in only 2.2% of the isolates. All 12 virulence genes studied were detected in the 45 APEC isolates. Virulence gene profiles were constructed for each APEC isolate from the multiplex data. The APEC isolates were profiled as 62.2% fitting profile A, 31.1% profile B and 6.7% profile C. None of the isolates had more than seven virulence genes. Virulence profiles of Zimbabwean APEC isolates are different from those previously reported. Zimbabwean APEC isolates appear to be less pathogenic and may rely on environmental factors and stress in hosts to establish infection.