Characterisation and clonal relationships of Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) isolated from Australian dairy cattle

Vet Microbiol. 2001 Apr 19;79(4):323-35. doi: 10.1016/s0378-1135(00)00366-7.


A total of 136 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) isolated during a longitudinal survey of three Australian dairy farms were examined to determine their virulence factors, serotype and genomic relationships. This study aimed to assess the potential of these STEC to cause disease in humans and to analyse the on-farm ecology of STEC. Virulence factors (stx, eae, ehxA) were used as determinants of potential to be enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) and were examined using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Among the cattle groups tested, calves, both before and during weaning, shed the most putative EHEC and were the main source of serotypes commonly associated with human disease. E. coli O157:H7 and E. coli O26:H11 represented 9.4 and 7.8% of cattle STEC isolates respectively, with other putative EHEC serotypes reported for the first time from cattle. Based on serotype and virulence factors, 20% of STEC were putative EHEC. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) was used to compare the genomic profiles of STEC from dairy farms. Isolates common to cattle and the farm environment were identified. Multiple strains of STEC with high clonal turnover were detected in the faeces of cattle, and isolates appeared to be specific to individual farms. To fully assess the pre-slaughter EHEC risk factors on-farm, examination of STEC virulence is as important as determination of STEC prevalence.

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial*
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins*
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cattle Diseases / microbiology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field / veterinary
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / epidemiology
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli Infections / veterinary*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Hemolysin Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Hemolysin Proteins / genetics
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Prevalence
  • Shiga Toxin 1 / biosynthesis
  • Shiga Toxin 1 / genetics
  • Shiga Toxin 2 / biosynthesis
  • Shiga Toxin 2 / genetics
  • Virulence


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Hemolysin Proteins
  • Hlya protein, E coli
  • Shiga Toxin 1
  • Shiga Toxin 2
  • eaeA protein, E coli