Virulence factors in Escherichia coli isolated from the blood of bacteremic neonatal calves

G. Fecteau, J. M. Fairbrother, Robert Higgins, D. C. Van Metre, J. Paré, Bradford Smith, C. A. Holmberg, S. Jang

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26 Scopus citations


Twenty-five Escherichia coli isolates from the blood of critically ill bacteremic calves sampled in two separate studies on a calf-rearing farm housing over 15,000 calves, in the San Joaquin Valley, California were studied. Isolates were characterized for O serogroups and for pathotypes as determined by the presence of specific virulence factors including heat-labile enterotoxin (LT), heat-stable enterotoxins a and b (STa, STb), verotoxins 1 and 2 (VT1, VT2), cytotoxic necrotizing factor (CNF), aerobactin, intimin Eae and P, F17 and CS31A fimbrial adhesins, and resistance to bactericidal effects of serum. These isolates constituted a heterogeneous group. However, isolates were mostly aerobactin positive and often resistant to the bactericidal effects of serum. Isolates of pathotypes O78 (n = 6), O119:CS31a (n = 3), and P positive but O non-typeable (n = 3) were associated with a high mortality rate. The remaining isolates belonged to diverse pathotypes, often possessing the adhesins P, F17, CS31A and Eae but belonging to O serogroups other than O78 and O119, and were less frequently associated with mortality. Although no virulence factor common to all isolates was identified, the capacity to use iron by the presence of aerobactin which is important to the capture of iron was a predominant factor. Moreover, certain pathotypes appear to be associated with primary colisepticemia whereas other pathotypes may cause a bacteremia without necessarily leading to septicemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-249
Number of pages9
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 12 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacteremia
  • Bovine
  • Calves
  • Escherichia coli
  • Virulence factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


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