Pathogenic and fecal Escherichia coli strains from turkeys in a commercial operation

S. F. Altekruse, F. Elvinger, C. DebRoy, F. W. Pierson, J. D. Eifert, N. Sriranganathan

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21 Citations (SciVal)


The biochemical phenotypes and antimicrobial susceptibility patterns of 105 clinical Escherichia coli isolates from flocks with colibacillosis in a turkey operation were compared with 1104 fecal E. coli isolates from 20 flocks in that operation. Clinical isolates and 194 fecal isolates with biochemical phenotypes or minimum inhibitory concentrations for gentamicin and sulfamethoxazole similar to clinical isolates were tested for somatic antigens and the potential virulence genes hylE, iss, tsh, and K1. The predominant biochemical phenotype of clinical isolates contained 21 isolates including 14 isolates belonging to serogroup O78 with barely detectable β-D-glucuronidase activity. Thirty-five fecal isolates had biochemical phenotypes matching common phenotypes of clinical isolates. Sixty-six (63%) clinical isolates exhibited intermediate susceptibility or resistance to gentamicin and sulfamethoxazole compared with 265 (24%) fecal isolates (P < 0.001). Seventy-seven clinical isolates reacted with O-antisera, of which 51 (66%) belonged to the following serogroups: O1, O2, O8, O25, O78, O114, and O119. In comparison, 8 of 35 (23%) fecal isolates subtyped on the basis of biochemical phenotype belonged to these serogroups and four of 167 (2%) fecal isolates subtyped on the basis of their antimicrobia resistance patterns belonged to these serogroups. Iss, K1, and tsh genes were detected more often among clinical isolates than these fecal isolates (P < 0.05). In summary, a small subgroup of E. coli strains caused most colibacillosis infections in this operation. These strains existed at low concentration in normal fecal flora of healthy turkeys in intensively raised flocks. The data suggest that colibacillosis in turkey operations may be due to endogenous infections caused by specialized pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-569
Number of pages8
JournalAvian diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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