Prevalence of diarrheagenic Escherichia coli in animal products in Duhok province, Iraq

Document Type : Full paper (Original article)


1 Department of Pathology and Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Duhok, Duhok, Iraq

2 Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, University of Duhok, Duhok, Iraq


Background: Diarrheagenic Escherichia coli (DEC) is regarded as a great public health concern all around the world causing diarrhoea which can be transmitted through food chain. Aims: This study aimed to determine the contamination level and exact distribution rate of DEC in food products consumed by human. Methods: Seven hundred and twenty samples of food from animal origin and fishes were analysed by conventional and molecular method for the presence of E. coli and two multiplex polymerase chain reaction (mPCR) for detection of DEC. Results: Two hundred and eighty-three E. coli isolates were detected. The classification of DEC by two multiplex PCR assay yielded 84 DEC pathotypes. Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) was detected at high rates (75%) followed by shiga-toxigenic E. coli (STEC) and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) (each of 9.5%), enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) (3.5%) and atypical enteropathogenic E. coli (aEPEC) (about 2.3%). The highest number of DEC (n=26; 21.6%) was observed from beef carcasses in abattoir while the lowest number (n=7; 5.8%) was noticed from burger samples (P<0.01). Enterotoxigenic E. coli was widespread in local raw ground meat and fish surface swabs (P<0.001), EAEC (P<0.01), and EHEC (P<0.001) were only in beef carcasses swabs, STEC was more prevalent in both imported and local raw burger (P<0.01), while the isolates of aEPEC were from imported chicken carcasses (P>0.05). Conclusion: High DEC contamination rate that was observed is attributed to the poor hygienic practices during food processing. Therefore, a superior hygienic application is required.


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