Successful detection of pathogenic Shiga-toxin-producingEscherichia coliin shellfish, environmental waters and sediment using the ISO/TS-13136 method

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The presence of highly pathogenic Shiga-toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in shellfish, upstream waters and sediment from coastal shellfish sites was evaluated using the ISO/TS-13136 method. Shellfish (oysters, mussels and cockles), water and sediment samples were collected monthly over a period of 1 year. The method used real-time PCR detection of stx1, stx2 and eae genes and genetic markers corresponding to the five major serogroups (O157, O26, O103, O111 and O145) on enrichment broths and the identification of STEC when these genes and markers were detected. stx genes were detected in the broth of 33% of shellfish batches (n = 126), 91% of water samples (n = 117) and 28% of sediment (n = 39). One stx1+, eae+ O26:H11 strain was isolated from a shellfish batch, and O26:H11, O145:H28 and O103:H2 strains without the stx gene (n = 9) were isolated from shellfish and waters. In conclusion, this study shows the suitability of the ISO/TS-13136 method to assess the presence of highly pathogenic E. coli strains in shellfish farming areas. It also highlights a low prevalence of STEC and consequently suggests a reduced corresponding human health risk.Significance and Impact of the Study(STEC) infections have been reported following ingestion of contaminated food or water or after bathing in contaminated waters. However, to date, few studies concerning their detection in coastal environment and shellfish have been reported. The aim of this work was to assess the presence of STEC in three shellfish-harvesting areas by the ISO/TS-13136 method, which has recently been used for STEC detection in food.

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