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J Food Prot. 2018 Nov;81(11):1761-1767. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-188.

Prevalence and Characterization of Atypical Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli Isolated from Retail Foods in China.

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1 College of Natural Resources and Environment, South China Agricultural University, Wushan Road No. 483, Guangzhou 510642, People's Republic of China.
2 Guangdong Institute of Microbiology, State Key Laboratory of Applied Microbiology Southern China and Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Microbial Culture Collection and Application, Guangdong Open Laboratory of Applied Microbiology, Xianlie Middle Road No. 100, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou 510070, People's Republic of China.


Atypical enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (aEPEC) is an emerging pathogen that has been implicated in outbreaks of diarrhea worldwide. The objective of this study was to investigate the occurrence of aEPEC in retail foods at markets in the People's Republic of China and to characterize the isolates for virulence genes, intimin gene ( eae) subtypes, multilocus sequence types (STs), and antimicrobial susceptibility. From May 2014 to April 2015, 1,200 food samples were collected from retail markets in China, and 41 aEPEC isolates were detected in 2.75% (33 of 1,200) of the food samples. The virulence genes tir, katP, etpD, efa/lifA, ent, nleB, and nleE were commonly detected in these isolates. Nine eae subtypes were detected in the isolates, among which θ (23 isolates) and β1 (6 isolates) were the most prevalent. The 41 isolates were divided into 27 STs by multilocus sequence typing. ST752 and ST10 were the most prevalent. Antibiotic susceptibility testing revealed high resistance among isolates to streptomycin (87.80%), cephalothin (73.16%), ampicillin (51.22%), tetracycline (63.42%), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (43.90%), and kanamycin (43.90%). Thirty isolates (73.17%) were resistant to at least three antibiotics, and 20 (53.66 %) were resistant to five or more antibiotics. Our results suggest that retail foods in markets are important sources of aEPEC. The presence of virulent and multidrug-resistant aEPEC in retail foods poses a potential threat to consumers. Surveillance of aEPEC contamination and prudent use of antibiotics is strongly recommended in China.


Antimicrobial susceptibility; Atypical enteropathogenic Escherichia coli; Food; Genotypes; Prevalence

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