Chicken products are suspected as a source of extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC), which causes diseases in humans. The zoonotic risk to humans from chicken-source E. coli is not fully elucidated. To clarify the zoonotic risk posed by Ex-PEC in chicken products and to fill existing knowledge gaps regarding ExPEC zoonosis, we evaluated the prevalence of ExPEC on shell eggs and compared virulence-associated phenotypes between ExPEC and non-ExPEC isolates from both chicken meat and eggs. The prevalence of ExPEC among egg-source isolates was low, i.e., 5/108 (4.7%). Based on combined genotypic and phenotypic screening results, multiple human and avian pathotypes were represented among the chicken-source ExPEC isolates, including avian-pathogenic E. coli (APEC), uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC), neonatal meningitis E. coli (NMEC), and sepsis-associated E. coli (SEPEC), as well as an undefined ExPEC group, which included isolates with fewer virulence factors than the APEC, UPEC, and NMEC isolates. These findings document a substantial prevalence of human-pathogenic ExPEC-associated genes and phenotypes among E. coli isolates from retail chicken products and identify key virulence traits that could be used for screening.
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© 2015, American Society for Microbiology.