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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2016 Feb;22(2):122-129. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2015.11.010. Epub 2015 Dec 8.

Escherichia coli and urinary tract infections: the role of poultry-meat.

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University of British Columbia, School of Population and Public Health, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Electronic address:


Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC) is the most common cause of community-acquired and hospital-acquired extraintestinal infections. The hypothesis that human ExPEC may have a food animal reservoir has been a topic of investigation by multiple groups around the world. Experimental studies showing the shared pathogenic potential of human ExPEC and avian pathogenic E. coli suggest that these extraintestinal E. coli may be derived from the same bacterial lineages or share common evolutionary roots. The consistent observation of specific human ExPEC lineages in poultry or poultry products, and rarely in other meat commodities, supports the hypothesis that there may be a poultry reservoir for human ExPEC. The time lag between human ExPEC acquisition (in the intestine) and infection is the fundamental challenge facing studies attempting to attribute ExPEC transmission to poultry or other environmental sources. Even whole genome sequencing efforts to address attribution will struggle with defining meaningful genetic relationships outside of a discrete food-borne outbreak setting. However, if even a fraction of all human ExPEC infections, especially antimicrobial-resistant ExPEC infections, is attributable to the introduction of multidrug-resistant ExPEC lineages through contaminated food product(s), the relevance to public health, food animal production and food safety will be significant.


Chicken; Escherichia coli; extraintestinal infections; extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli; poultry; reservoir; retail meat; urinary tract infections

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