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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Produce Safety and Microbiology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #330550

Research Project: Molecular Identification and Characterization of Bacterial and Viral Pathogens Associated with Foods

Location: Produce Safety and Microbiology Research

Title: Shiga toxin-producing escherichia coli: detection, differentiation, and implications for food safety

item Zaragoza, William
item TEPLITSKI, MAX - University Of Florida
item Fagerquist, Clifton - Keith

Submitted to: Extension Digital Information Source (EDIS)
Publication Type: Monograph
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2016
Publication Date: 7/27/2016
Citation: Zaragoza, W.J., Teplitski, M., Fagerquist, C.K. 2016. Shiga toxin-producing escherichia coli: detection, differentiation, and implications for food safety. Extension Digital Information Source (EDIS). SL440, pages 1-6.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: All unprocessed food products typically harbor microorganisms. Some foods and the components that go into food production may contain pathogenic microorganisms such as Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STECs). When consumed, these STECs can cause serious illness or even death. In 2011, an outbreak involving an atypical STEC, enteroaggregative E. coli O104 with a genetically divergent lineage from O157, led to more than 800 cases of HUS that spanned multiple continents. Outbreaks such as these highlight the importance of developing robust methods to detect and differentiate these toxins in our food supply. Adoption and implementation of these methods as well as regulations ensuring their strict implementation in the farm-to-fork continuum are critical to ensure food safety and prevent outbreaks. This document compares and contrasts the various methods currently available for detecting and differentiating Shiga toxin and is intended for laboratory personnel. STEC infections are extremely time-sensitive. Early detection improves outcomes associated with treating patients and controlling outbreaks. Because of this, simultaneous detection of O157 and non-O157 STECs should become standard practice. Detection of STECs within the first 24 hours of infection can greatly improve the clinical outcome for affected patients, reducing the risk of severe disease. Additionally, rapid isolation of the organism assists public health officials in tracking the outbreak and controlling its spread.