During the human E. coli O103 outbreak in 2006, isolated E. coli O103 without toxin genes (EPEC O103) showed very similar genetic profiles as the human isolates. However, EPEC O103 were isolated from a variety of sheep products from various industrial establishments and many of these could not be epidemiologically linked to the human cases, indicating an unknown ubiquitous sheep reservoir of EPEC O103 or an unexpected high prevalence of extremely unstable toxin-producing O103 (STEC). The relationship between ruminant EPEC and STEC is unclear and what risk a possible ubiquitous EPEC reservoir represents for generating new human pathogenic STEC is unknown. Another plausible explanation for the extensive sheep product contamination is bacterial dissemination from biofilms in the industrial establishments.
In order to give quick and reliable answers to diagnostic problems, routine microbiological screening methods for the isolation and detection of the E. coli serogroups most associated with human STEC infections will be developed and optimized.
Secondly, to distinguish between potentially human pathogenic and other E. coli, various virulence factors of E. coli variants from different sources will be studied and characterized and microarray techniques will be used for strain comparison and detection of known and putative virulence factors to predict human pathogenicity. MLVA as a tool to characterize and compare E. coli variants and thereby identify human pathogens will be examined.
Biofilm forming ability and composition of biofilm matrix of different E. coli isolates will be studied in order to determine their ability to persist in food production factories and retail shops. The pathogenic potential of phage transduction in biofilm will be elucidated and the effect of different disinfectants on biofilm forming E. coli will be examined. Possible biofilm-inhibiting abilities of furanones will be tested as such furanones may prove to be the “disinfectants” of the future.
- Norwegian School of Veterinary Science (NVH)
- The National Institute of Public Health (NIPH)
- Nofima Mat
- University of Oslo
- Kjøtt- og fjørfebransjens Landsforbund (KLF)
- Tine BA