Characterization of Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli Isolated from Humans between 2011 and 2014
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Although E. coli O157:H7 is the major serotype among Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains, non-O157 serotypes have caused numerous outbreaks worldwide. We aimed to evaluate the distribution of serogroups, serotypes, virulence genes, and antimicrobial resistance of STEC strains recovered from stool samples. A total of 395 stool samples characterized by watery/bloody diarrhea and/or symptoms of hemolytic-uremic syndrome were included in this study. Strains compatible with E. coli, based on biochemical tests, were tested for the presence of Shiga toxin by ELISA. Toxigenic strains were tested by serotyping and serogrouping. Virulence genes, stxl, stx2, aggR, hlyA, and eae were detected by polymerase chain reaction. Overall, 26 (6.6%) stool culture samples tested positive for STEC. Shiga toxin was positive in 28 (7.1%) patient isolates based on ELISA and PCR. Two isolates could not be serotyped. STEC strains were distributed into 10 serogroups and 14 serotypes. Of the serotyped strains, 92.3% were non-O157, with the major distribution in O104:H4 and O26:HNM. All were negative for extended-spectrum beta-lactamase enzyme and 62.5% were resistant to at least 1 drug. This study demonstrated the wide distribution of non-O157 STEC strains from our patient group. Further studies should be performed to better understand STEC characteristics on a larger scale.