Shiga toxin-producing E. coli isolated from sheep in Namibia
Introduction: Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are an important group of emerging zoonotic pathogens carried in the intestinal tracts of ruminants. They can cause mild diarrhea and fatal disease characterized by hemolytic uremic syndrome, especially in children, the elderly, and immune-compromised individuals.
Methodology: The aim of this study was to determine if sheep harbor STEC. Sheep feces (n = 40), brisket wool (n = 40), and 150 meat samples were collected from the flank (n = 35), rump (n = 35), brisket (n = 20), shank (n = 25), diaphragm (n = 10), and neck (n = 25) of slaughter-age sheep at a high-throughput abattoir and tested for STEC using a combination of culture and real-time polymerase chain reaction techniques.
Results: E. coli O103 (5/40) and O145 (5/40) strains were isolated from the feces and E. coli O157:H7 was isolated from brisket wool (10/40) and flank meat (5/35). The results of this study provide the first report of STEC infections in sheep in Namibia.Conclusions: The results of this study show that sheep, like cattle, can shed STEC strains in their feces, which can contaminate meat and expose humans to infections.
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