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An Attempt to Identify the Likely Sources of Escherichia coli Harboring Toxin Genes in Rainwater Tanks

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journal contribution
posted on 21.02.2016, 13:21 by W. Ahmed, J. P. S. Sidhu, S. Toze
In this study, 200 Escherichia coli isolates from 22 rainwater tank samples in Southeast Queensland, Australia were tested for the presence of 10 toxin genes (i.e., stx1, stx2, hlyA, ehxA, LT1, ST1, cdtB, east1, cnf1, and cvaC) associated with intestinal and extraintestinal pathotypes. Among the 22 rainwater tanks tested, 5 (28%), 7 (32%), 7 (32%), and 1 (5%) tanks contained E. coli harboring ST1, east1, cdtB, and cvaC genes, respectively. Of the 200 E. coli isolates from the 22 tanks, 43 (22%) strains from 13 (59%) tanks were harboring toxin gene. An attempt was made to establish a link between bird and possum fecal contamination and the presence of these potential clinically significant E. coli strains harboring toxin genes in rainwater tanks. Among the 214 E. coli isolates tested from birds, 30 (14%), 11 (5%) and 18 (8%) strains contained east1, cdtB, and cvaC toxin genes, respectively. Similarly, among the 214 possum E. coli isolates, 74 (35%) contained only the east1 toxin gene. All E. coli strains from rainwater tanks, bird and possum fecal samples harboring toxin genes were biochemically fingerprinted. Biochemical phenotypes (BPTs) of 14 (33%) E. coli strains from 7 rainwater tanks and 9 (21%) E. coli strains from 6 rainwater tanks were identical to a number of BPTs of E. coli strains isolated from bird and possum feces suggesting that these animals may be the sources of these E. coli in rainwater tanks. as a precautionary measure, it is recommended that rainwater should be treated prior to drinking. In addition, proper maintenance of roof and gutter hygiene and elimination of overhanging tree branches and other structures where possible to prevent the movement of possums are highly recommended.