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Experimental mouse lethality of Escherichia coli strains isolated from free ranging Tibetan yaks

Rehman, Mujeeb Ur, Zhang, Hui, Wang, Yajing, Mehmood, Khalid, Huang, Shucheng, Iqbal, Muhammad Kashif, Li, Jiakui
Microbial pathogenesis 2017 v.109 pp. 15-19
Escherichia coli, animal models, farmers, feces, genes, humans, mice, mortality, pathotypes, phylogeny, risk, serotypes, virulence, yaks
The present study has examined the virulence potential of Escherichia coli isolates harboring at least one virulence gene (associated with ExPEC or InPEC pathotype and belonging to different phylogenetic groups: A, B1, B2 or D), isolated from free ranging Tibetan yak feces. The E. coli isolates (n = 87) were characterized for different serogroups and a mouse model of subcutaneous–infection was used to envisage the virulence within these E. coli strains. Of the 87 E. coli isolates examined, 23% of the E. coli isolates caused lethal infections in a mouse model of subcutaneous infection and were classified as killer. Moreover, the majority of the killer strains belonged to phylogroup A (65%) and serogroup O60 or O101 (35%). Phylogroup B1, serogroups O60 and O101 were statistically associated with the killer status (P < 0.05). However, positive associations (OR >1) were observed between the killer status isolates and all other bacterial virulence traits. This study comprises the first report on the virulence potential of E. coli strains isolated from free-ranging Tibetan yaks feces. Our findings suggest that pathogenic E. coli of free ranging yaks is highly worrisome, as these feces are used as manures by farmers and therewith pose a health risk to humans upon exposure.