Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli from animal food sources in Mauritius: Prevalence, serogroup diversity and virulence profiles.Int J Food Microbiol. 2020 Jul 02; 324:108589.IJ
Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) are important human pathogens associated with diarrhea and in some cases haemorrhagic colitis. Contaminated food derived from cattle and wildlife species are often associated with disease outbreaks. In this study, we report the prevalence, serogroup diversity and virulence profiles of STEC strains derived from cattle, rusa deer and pig. Of the 422 samples analyzed, STEC were detected in 40% (80/200) of cattle, 27.0% (33/122) of deer and 13.0% (13/100) of pigs. STEC isolates belonged to 38 O-serogroups whereby 5.2% (24/462) of the isolates belonged to clinically important EHEC-7 serogroups: O26 (n = 2), O103 (n = 1), O145 (n = 3) and O157 (n = 18). Fourteen serogroups (O26, O51, O84, O91, O100, O104, O110, O117, O145, O146, O156, O157, O177 and ONT) displayed multiple virulence profiles. We also identified two serovars (O117 and O119) in deer which are not well-documented in epidemiological surveys. 73.7% (28/38) of recovered O-serogroups are known to be associated with serious human illnesses including haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and bloody diarrhea. STEC isolates harboring single genotypes stx1, stx2, eae and hlyA accounted for 3.0% (14/462), 9.1% (42/462), 47.6% (220/462) and 1.7% (8/462) of all STEC isolates screened, respectively. Virulence combinations stx1 and stx2 were harboured by 1.3% of isolates while strains with genetic profiles eae/hlyA were the second most prevalent amongst STEC isolates. The full known virulent genotypes (stx2/eae, stx1/stx2/eae, stx1/stx2/hlyA and stx2/eae/hlyA) were present in 22 of the 462 STEC strains. A total of 10 different virulence patterns were recovered amongst animal species. Phylogeny of the gnd gene showed that amongst STEC strains, serovar O100 outlined the main cluster. Fourteen (n = 14) different sequence types (STs) were identified from a panel of twenty (n = 20) STEC isolates. One of the isolate (PG007B) possessed a unique ST (adk 10, fumC 693, gyrB 4, icd 1, mdh 8, purA 8, recA 2) that could not be assigned using MLST databases. None of the ST's recovered in deer were observed in domestic species. Our findings shows that food associated animals found on the tropical island of Mauritius carry a diversity of STEC strains with many serovars known to be associated with human disease. This report indicates that increased awareness, surveillance and hygienic attention at critical stages of the human food chain are warranted.