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Vet Microbiol. 2007 Jul 20;123(1-3):145-52. Epub 2007 Feb 23.

Prevalence of virulence genes in Escherichia coli strains recently isolated from young pigs with diarrhea in the US.

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The Center for Infectious Disease Research & Vaccinology, Department of Veterinary Science, South Dakota State University, Box 2175, Brookings, SD 57007, USA.


Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC)-associated post-weaning diarrhea (PWD) is economically one of the most important diseases for the swine industry. Porcine ETEC strains typically express K88 or F18 fimbria and heat-labile (LT) and/or heat-stable (STa, STb) enterotoxins. However, recent studies indicate that EAST1 toxin, adhesin involved in diffuse adherence (AIDA-I) and porcine attaching and effacing-associated factor (paa) may also be expressed by ETEC strains associated with diarrhea. To better understand the virulence factors of E. coli strains that cause PWD, we applied PCR to screen for K88, F18, F41, 987P and K99 fimbrial genes; LT, STa, STb, Stx2e and EAST1 toxic genes; and AIDA-I, paa and EAE adhesin genes in E. coli strains recently isolated from young pigs with PWD in the US. Of 304 E. coli isolates from diarrheic pigs submitted for testing, 175 (57.6%) strains possessed fimbrial genes: K88 (64.6%), F18 (34.3%), F41 (0.57%), K99 (0.57%), 987P (0); toxin genes: LT (57.7%), STb (72.6%), STa (27.4%), STx2e (17.4%), EAST1 (35%); and adhesin genes: AIDA-I (26.9%), paa (60%), EAE (1.1%). All toxin genes except the EAST1 toxin gene, were almost exclusively associated with K88+ or F18+ isolates, and most of these isolates carried multiple toxin genes. The non-fimbrial adhesin paa was found present in over half of the K88+ isolates. A total of 129 (42%) isolates carried no fimbrial genes, including 66 (21.7%) isolates that did not have any of the above virulence genes. These results suggest a broad array of virulence genes associated with PWD in pigs.

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