Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli strains are one of the most important foodborne bacteria with an emergence of antibiotic resistance. Foodborne STEC strains are mainly associated with presence of certain virulence factors and O-seogroups. The present investigation was done to study the distribution of virulence factors, O-serogroups and antibiotic resistance properties of Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli isolated from milk and dairy products.
Six-hundred samples were randomly collected and immediately transferred to laboratory. All samples were cultured and E. coli strains were isolated. STEC strains were identified based on the presence of putative virulence factors and subtypes. STEC isolates were subjected to multiplex PCR and disk diffusion methods.
One-hundred and eighty-one out of 600 samples (30.16%) harbored E. coli. Prevalence of STEC strains was 10.66%. O157 (43.75%) and O26 (37.50%) were the most frequently identified serogroups. Aac(3)-IV (100%), CITM (96.87%) and tetA (76.56%) were the most commonly detected antibiotic resistance genes. STEC strains had the highest prevalence of resistance against ampicillin (100%), gentamicin (100%) and tetracycline (96.87%).
Kashk and dough were negative for presence of E. coli strains. High prevalence of resistant-O157 strains and simultaneous presence of multiple virulence factors pose an important public health problem regarding the consumption of raw milk and dairy products.