Background: Cytolethal distending toxin (CDT)-producing Escherichia coli (CTEC) has been isolated from patients with gastrointestinal or urinary tract infection, and sepsis. However, the source of human infection remains unknown. In this study, we attempted to detect and isolate CTEC strains from fecal specimens of healthy farm animals and characterized them phenotypically and genotypically. Results: By PCR analysis, the cdtB gene was detected in 90 and 14 out of 102 and 45 stool specimens of healthy cattle and swine, respectively, and none from 45 chicken samples. Subtypes of the cdtB genes (I to V) were further examined by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of the amplicons and by type-specific PCRs for the cdt-III and cdt-V genes. Of the 90 cdtB gene-positive cattle samples, 2 cdt-I, 25 cdt-III, 1 cdt-IV, 52 cdt-V and 1 both cdt-III and cdt-V gene-positive strains were isolated while 1 cdt-II and 6 cdt-V gene-positive were isolated from 14 cdtB positive swine samples. Serotypes of some isolates were identical to those of human isolates. Interestingly, a cdt-II gene-positive strain isolated from swine was for the first time identified as Escherichia albertii. Phylogenetic analysis grouped 87 E. coli strains into 77 phylogroup B1, 6 B2, and 4 D, respectively. Most of the B1 strains harbored both lpfA O113 and ehaA. Three and twenty-two cdt-V gene-positive strains harbored eaeA and stx genes, respectively, and seven possessed cdt-V, stx and subAB genes. The cnf2 gene, normally present in cdt-III gene-positive strains, was also detected in cdt-V gene-positive strains. Conclusions: Our results suggest that healthy cattle and swine could be the reservoir of CTEC, and they could be a potential source of human infections.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)