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Acta Vet Scand Suppl. 2001;95:79-84.

Zoonotic Escherichia coli.

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Department of Pharmacology, Microbiology and Food Hygiene, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Postbox 8146 Dep., N-0033 Oslo, Norway.


Escherichia coli is a normal inhabitant of the gastrointestinal tract of all warm-blooded animals, but variants of this species is also among the important etiological agents of enteritis and several extraintestinal diseases. The E. coli strains that cause diarrhoeal illness are categorised into pathogenicity groups based on virulence properties, mechanisms of pathogenicity, clinical symptoms and serology. The five main categories include enterotoxinogenic E. coli (ETEC), enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), enteroaggregative E. coli (EAggEC), enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC) and Shiga (Vero) toxin-producing E. coli (STEC/VTEC). From a zoonotic point of view, STEC is the only E. coli pathogenicity group of major interest, as the shiga toxin-producing strains are able to cause severe disease in humans when being transmitted through the food chain from their animal reservoirs. The focus of this manuscript is therefore on STEC; pathogenicity factors, disease, the reservoirs and on-farm ecology, transmission into the food chain, growth and survival in food and in the environment, and the shiga toxin-encoding bacteriophages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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