Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC), the specialized E. coli strains that possess the ability to overcome or subvert host defenses and cause extraintestinal disease, are important pathogens in humans and certain animals. Molecular epidemiological analysis has led to an appreciation of ExPEC as being distinct from other E. coli (including intestinal pathogenic and commensal variants) and has offered insights into the ecology, evolution, reservoirs, transmission pathways, host-pathogen interactions, and pathogenetic mechanisms of ExPEC. Molecular epidemiological analysis also provides an essential complement to experimental assessment of virulence mechanisms. This chapter first reviews the basic conceptual and methodological underpinnings of the molecular epidemiological approach and then summarizes the main aspects of ExPEC that have been investigated using this approach.
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© 2013 American Society for Microbiology.