A team of researchers from NDSU and Iowa State University has been highlighted by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) in this month’s ASM Microbe magazine for investigating the relationship between E. coli of birds and E. coli strains implicated in neonatal meningitis. In an article published in this month’s Infection and Immunity, Catherine Logue and her colleagues, Kelly Tivendale and Lisa Nolan of Iowa State University, have found that E. coli strains responsible for causing human neonatal meningitis are very similar to avian pathogenic E. coli (APEC) using molecular techniques including multilocus sequence type analysis, phylogenetic group and pulsed field electrophoresis pattern.
Some APEC can cause high mortality and meningitis in the rat model of human meningitis, and some neonatal meningitis E. coli (NMEC) cause disease in the chicken model of avian colibacillosis. Other NMEC and APEC display host specificity, causing disease only in the host type (mammalian or avian) from which they were isolated.
“This work suggests that E. coli associated with retail poultry meat are possible human pathogens, and reinforces the importance of proper food handling techniques,” Tivendale said. It also suggests some E. coli can infect multiple host types, while others are host specific. “Understanding the basis of host specificity will provide future avenues for our research and will be beneficial to developing new strategies for the control of other avian and human extraintestinal E. coli infections and disease and how we can approach reducing consumer exposure through the food chain.”
The full research article appears in this month’s ASM publication, Infection and Immunity.