To study the prevalence and characterize atypical enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) and Shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC) in avian species in India.Methods and Results:
Two hundred and twelve faecal samples collected from 62 chickens, 50 ducks and 100 pigeons were investigated for the presence of stx1, stx2, eae and ehxA virulence genes by multiplex PCR. In all, 42 E. coli isolates (25 chicken, 2 duck and 15 pigeon) possessed at least one virulence gene. Out of these, nine (4·24%) isolates were STEC and 33 (15·56%) were EPEC. All isolates from duck and chicken were EPEC while among 15 pigeon isolates nine (60%) were STEC and six (40%) were EPEC. Among the STEC isolates four each carried stx1 or stx2 and one possessed both stx1 and stx2. Subtype analysis of stx revealed the presence of stx2f in four STEC isolates. None of the STEC isolates carried stx1c, stx2c, stx2d or stx2e. Isolates carrying stx2f demonstrated vero cell toxicity. One each belonged to serogroup O17 and O78, while one was rough and the other untypeable. All EPEC isolates were atypical as they lacked bfpA. This appears to be the first report of detection of stx2f from India.Conclusions:
The study established the presence of stx1 and stx2f containing E. coli in pigeons and atypical EPEC in poultry in India. Pigeons might serve as vectors for transmission of STEC to environment and humans.Significance and Impact of the Study:
Taking into account the close contact between fanciers and pigeons, these findings warrant a more critical appraisal of these zoonotic pathogens in pigeons and humans.