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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2011 Jun;62(1):1-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-695X.2011.00797.x. Epub 2011 Mar 24.

Escherichia coli from animal reservoirs as a potential source of human extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli.

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Prevtec microbia, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada Centre de recherche en infectiologie porcine, Université de Montréal, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada.


Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC) are an important cause of urinary tract infections, neonatal meningitis and septicaemia in humans. Animals are recognized as a reservoir for human intestinal pathogenic E. coli, but whether animals are a source for human ExPEC is still a matter of debate. Pathologies caused by ExPEC are reported for many farm animals, especially for poultry, in which colibacillosis is responsible for huge losses within broiler chickens. Cases are also reported for companion animals. Commensal E. coli strains potentially carrying virulence factors involved in the development of human pathologies also colonize the intestinal tract of animals. This review focuses on the recent evidence of the zoonotic potential of ExPEC from animal origin and their potential direct or indirect transmission from animals to humans. As antimicrobials are commonly used for livestock production, infections due to antimicrobial-resistant ExPEC transferred from animals to humans could be even more difficult to treat. These findings, combined with the economic impact of ExPEC in the animal production industry, demonstrate the need for adapted measures to limit the prevalence of ExPEC in animal reservoirs while reducing the use of antimicrobials as much as possible.

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