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Vet Microbiol. 1988 Dec;18(3-4):297-311.

Production of toxins by Escherichia coli strains isolated from calves with diarrhoea in galicia (north-western Spain).

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Departmento de Microbiología y Parasitología, Facultades de Veterinaria, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Lugo, Spain.


A total of 289 Escherichia coli colonies isolated from 78 diarrhoeic calves were studied for production of heat-labile (LT) and heat-stable (STa) enterotoxins, verotoxin (VT), cytotoxic necrotizing factor (CNF) and K99 antigen, and they were serotyped. Production of STa was detected in a single strain possessing both K99 and F41 antigens; the serotype was 09:K (A) 35. LT-producing strains were not detected. From 16 (20.5%) calves, 51 VT-producing colonies of E. coli were isolated. Production of the necrotic factor was detected in 33 E. coli colonies isolated from 14 (17.9%) calves. Serotype was a useful marker for production of VT and CNF. Among the 51 VT-producing colonies, 24 were untypable and the remainder belonged to serotypes O2:K?, O103:K--, O104:K?, O128:K?, O153:K-- and O157:K--:H7. Four of the 33 CNF-producing colonies were untypable and the majority of the remaining colonies belonged to serotypes O15:K14, O78:(K80), O123:K-- and O139:K--. Both VT and CNF were lethal for mice, but only CNF showed necrotizing reaction in rabbit skin. Our results indicate that VT-producing and CNF-producing E. coli strains are frequently isolated from diarrhoeic calves and that according to the serotypes exhibited, some of them might be considered potential pathogens for humans. The role of VT-producing and CNF-producing strains in calf diarhoea remains to be established.

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