Core genome multilocus sequence typing (cgMLST) confirms systemic spread of avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) in broilers with cellulitis.

Jonare L, Östlund E, Söderlund R, Hansson I, Aspán A, Jansson DS

Vet. Microbiol. 282 (-) 109755 [2023-07-00; online 2023-04-24]

Broiler cellulitis has emerged as an important cause of economic losses for farmers and slaughter plants from carcass condemnation at processing. Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) has been identified as the main causative agent. The aim was to characterize E. coli isolated from cellulitis and organs in broilers at slaughter by whole genome sequencing analysis to study if systemic spread could be confirmed. Isolates were collected post-mortem from 101 carcasses condemned due to dermatitis/cellulitis from five commercial farms and six flocks. Forty-six isolates were characterised to determine serotypes, sequence types and virulence-associated genes. Analysis by cgMLST was performed to study the genetic similarity between isolates from the same broiler, among birds from the same flock and between flocks. Escherichia coli was isolated from 90% of birds from subcutaneous samples. In 20 broilers, E. coli was isolated from organs in pure culture or mixed with sparse growth of other bacteria. In eight of these, there were post-mortem findings suggestive of systemic bacterial spread. The majority of the isolates from the same bird and flock belonged to the same serotype and sequence type and were genetically indistinguishable, but differed when compared between flocks. Common APEC virulence genes, i.e. chuA, fyuA, hlyF, iroN, irp2, iss, ompT, sitA, TerC, TraT, were present in > 87% of the isolates. We conclude that evidence of systemic spread of E. coli from cellulitis was present in some birds at time of slaughter but cannot be reliably detected at meat inspection.

Clinical Genomics Stockholm [Service]

PubMed 37119568

DOI 10.1016/j.vetmic.2023.109755

Crossref 10.1016/j.vetmic.2023.109755

pii: S0378-1135(23)00107-4

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