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Molecular Screening, Isolation, and Characterization of Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 from Retail Shrimp

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Foodborne outbreaks attributed to the contamination of foods with enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 are a growing global concern. Fish and shrimp samples obtained from different retail fish markets in Cochin, India, were screened by direct PCR assays targeting three important virulence markers of EHEC, the intimin protein (eaeA gene), enterohemolysin (hlyA gene), and Shiga toxin (stx gene). One shrimp (Fenneropenaeus indicus) sample was positive for all these virulence markers, and seven typical E. coli O157:H7 isolates were recovered from the marker-positive shrimp sample. This is the first report of recovery of typical E. coli O157:H7 from fish or shellfish in India. All the typical EHEC isolates had a characteristic reaction in eosin methylene blue agar and belonged to IMViC (indole, methyl red, Voges Proskauer, Simmons citrate reactions) biotype I. These isolates also were negative for sorbitol and methylumbelliferyl-β-glucuronide and exhibited β-hemolytic activity. One isolate showed self-agglutination for E. coli O157 antisera and produced a false-positive reaction with CHROMagar O157. These typical EHEC isolates belonged to a restricted biotype group and had a very low multiple antibiotic resistance index. Isolation of E. coli O157:H7 in fish and shellfish indicates that strict adherence to hygienic handling methods and proper cooking or processing is needed before consumption of these products.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Matsyapuri P.O., Cochin-682 008, India

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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