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Open Access Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infection in Dutch Belted and New Zealand White Rabbits

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Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) produce one or more types of Shiga toxins and are foodborne causes of bloody diarrhea. The prototype EHEC strain, Escherichia coli O157:H7, is responsible for both sporadic cases and serious outbreaks worldwide. Infection with E. coli that produce Shiga toxins may lead to diarrhea, hemorrhagic colitis, or (less frequently) hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can cause acute kidney failure. The exact mechanism by which EHEC evokes intestinal and renal disease has not yet been determined. The development of a readily reproducible animal oral-infection model with which to evaluate the full pathogenic potential of E. coli O157:H7 and assess the efficacy of therapeutics and vaccines remains a research priority. Dutch belted (DB) rabbits are reported to be susceptible to both natural and experimental EHEC-induced disease, and New Zealand white (NZW) rabbits are a model for the intestinal manifestations of EHEC infection. In the current study, we compared the pathology caused by E. coli O157:H7 infection in DB and NZW rabbits. Both breeds of rabbits developed clinical signs of disease and intestinal lesions after experimental infection. In addition, one of the infected DB rabbits developed renal lesions. Our findings provide evidence that both breeds are susceptible to E. coli O157:H7 infection and that both may be useful models for investigating EHEC infections of humans.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Comparative Medicine Program, Department of Pathology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. [email protected] 2: Comparative Medicine Program, Department of Pathology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 3: Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland 4: Center for Vaccine Development, Division of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland

Publication date: 2010-02-01

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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