Research – Occurrence and Characteristics of Escherichia albertii in Wild Birds and Poultry Flocks in Switzerland


Escherichia albertii, a zoonotic pathogen, has sporadically been associated with infectious diarrhea in humans. Poultry and wild birds are considered potential reservoirs. We assessed the occurrence of E. albertii in 280 fecal samples from wild birds (n = 130) and pooled fecal samples collected at slaughterhouse level from poultry flocks (n = 150) in Switzerland. Using an E. albertii-specific PCR targeting the Eacdt gene, 23.8% (31/130) of the samples from wild birds, but not from the pooled poultry fecal samples, tested positive for Eacdt. The positive samples originated from 11 bird species belonging to eight families. Strain isolation was attempted on the PCR-positive samples by subculturing the broth cultures onto xylose–MacConkey plates. Isolation was possible on 12 of the 31 Eacdt-PCR-positive samples. Whole-genome sequencing revealed that the strains belonged to nine distinct sequence types, with ST13420 and ST5967 being represented by two and three isolates, respectively. All strains harbored the eae gene, while two strains were also positive for stx2f. Our study thus shows that E. albertii is present in the Swiss wild bird population, which can potentially act as a source of this pathogen to humans, other animals, and the environment. View Full-Text

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