Research – Prevalence and Implications of Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli in Farm and Wild Ruminants


Shiga-toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is a food-borne pathogen that causes human gastrointestinal infections across the globe, leading to kidney failure or even death in severe cases. E. coli are commensal members of humans and animals’ (cattle, bison, and pigs) guts, however, may acquire Shiga-toxin-encoded phages. This acquisition or colonization by STEC may lead to dysbiosis in the intestinal microbial community of the host. Wildlife and livestock animals can be asymptomatically colonized by STEC, leading to pathogen shedding and transmission. Furthermore, there has been a steady uptick in new STEC variants representing various serotypes. These, along with hybrids of other pathogenic E. coli (UPEC and ExPEC), are of serious concern, especially when they possess enhanced antimicrobial resistance, biofilm formation, etc. Recent studies have reported these in the livestock and food industry with minimal focus on wildlife. Disturbed natural habitats and changing climates are increasingly creating wildlife reservoirs of these pathogens, leading to a rise in zoonotic infections. Therefore, this review comprehensively surveyed studies on STEC prevalence in livestock and wildlife hosts. We further present important microbial and environmental factors contributing to STEC spread as well as infections. Finally, we delve into potential strategies for limiting STEC shedding and transmission. View Full-Text

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