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Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research

On-line version ISSN 2219-0635
Print version ISSN 0030-2465


ABDALLA, Shima E. et al. Food animals as reservoirs and potential sources of multidrug-resistant diarrheagenic E. coli pathotypes: Focus on intensive pig farming in South Africa. Onderstepoort j. vet. res. [online]. 2022, vol.89, n.1, pp.1-13. ISSN 2219-0635.

BACKGROUND: Diarrheagenic E. coli (DEC) strains are a major cause of diarrheal diseases in both developed and developing countries. Healthy asymptomatic animals may be reservoirs of zoonotic DEC, which may enter the food chain via the weak points in hygiene practices AIM: We investigated the prevalence of DEC along the pig production continuum from farm-to-fork. METHODS: A total of 417 samples were collected from specific points along the pig production system, that is, farm, transport, abattoir and food. E. coli was isolated and enumerated using Colilert. Ten isolates from each Quanti-tray were selected randomly and phenotypically identified using eosin methylene blue agar selective media. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to confirm the species and to classify them into the various diarrheagenic pathotypes. Antimicrobial susceptibility was determined against a panel of 20 antibiotics using the Kirby-Bauer disk diffusion method and EUCAST guideline. RESULTS: The final sample size consisted of 1044 isolates, of which 45.40% (474/1044) were DEC and 73% (762/1044) were multidrug-resistant. Enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC) was the most predominant DEC at all the sampling sites. CONCLUSION: The presence of DEC in food animal production environments and food of animal origin could serve as reservoirs for transmitting these bacteria to humans, especially in occupationally exposed workers and via food. Adherence to good hygienic practices along the pig production continuum is essential for mitigating the risk of transmission and infection, and ensuring food safety.

Keywords : diarrheagenic E. coli; multidrug resistance; intensive pig farming; farm-to-fork; low-income countries; South Africa; multiple-antibiotic resistance index; biosecurity.

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