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Prevalence of urovirulence genes cnf, hlyD, sfa/foc, and papGIII in fecal Escherichia coli from healthy dogs and their owners

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  • 1 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 2 Department of Comparative Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 3 Food Safety Center of Excellence, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 4 Food Safety Center of Excellence, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 5 Food Safety Center of Excellence, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 6 Department of Medical Genetics, School of Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37920.
  • | 7 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the prevalence of 4 urovirulence genes in fecal Escherichia coli isolates from healthy dogs and their owners and to determine whether detection of E coli strains with these genes was associated with a history of urinary tract infection (UTI).

Sample Population—61 healthy dog-owner pairs and 30 healthy non–dog owners.

Procedures—A fecal specimen was obtained from each participant, and 3 colonies of E coli were isolated from each specimen. A multiplex PCR assay was used to detect 4 genes encoding virulence factors: cytotoxic necrotizing factor (cnf), hemolysin (hlyD), s-fimbrial and F1C fimbriae adhesin (sfa/foc), and pilus associated with pyelonephritis G allele III (papGIII). Human participants completed a questionnaire to provide general information and any history of UTI for themselves and, when applicable, their dog.

Results—26% (16/61) of dogs, 18% (11/61) of owners, and 20% (6/30) of non–dog owners had positive test results for ≥ 1 E coli virulence gene. One or more genes were identified in fecal E coli isolates of both dog and owner in 2% (1/61) of households. There was no difference in the detection of any virulence factor between dog-owner pairs. Female owner history of UTI was associated with detection of each virulence factor in E coli strains isolated from their dogs' feces.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Dogs and humans harbored fecal E coli strains possessing the genes cnf, hlyD, sfa/foc, and papGIII that encode urovirulence factors. It was rare for both dog and owner to have fecal E coli strains with these virulence genes.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Stenske's present address is Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.

Supported by the Maurice M. Acree Jr. Endowment.

Address correspondence to Dr. Stenske.