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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Sep;79(17):5146-50. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01367-13. Epub 2013 Jun 21.

Serotypes, virulence factors, and antimicrobial susceptibilities of vaginal and fecal isolates of Escherichia coli from giant pandas.

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  • 1College of Food Science and Engineering, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi, China.


Although Escherichia coli typically colonizes the intestinal tract and vagina of giant pandas, it has caused enteric and systemic disease in giant pandas and greatly impacts the health and survival of this endangered species. In order to understand the distribution and characteristics of E. coli from giant pandas, 67 fecal and 30 vaginal E. coli isolates from 21 giant pandas were characterized for O serogroups, phylogenetic groups, antimicrobial susceptibilities, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profiles. In addition, these isolates were tested for the presence of extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC) and diarrheagenic E. coli (DEC) by multiplex PCR detection of specific virulence genes. The most prevalent serogroups for all E. coli isolates were O88, O18, O167, O4, and O158. ExPEC isolates were detected mostly in vaginal samples, and DEC isolates were detected only in fecal samples. Phylogenetic group B1 predominated in fecal isolates, while groups B2 and D were frequently detected in vaginal isolates. Resistance to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole was most frequently observed, followed by resistance to nalidixic acid and tetracycline. All except five isolates were typeable by using XbaI and were categorized into 74 PFGE patterns. Our findings indicate that panda E. coli isolates exhibited antimicrobial resistance, and potentially pathogenic E. coli isolates were present in giant pandas. In addition, these E. coli isolates were genetically diverse. This study may provide helpful information for developing strategies in the future to control E. coli infections of giant pandas.

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