Shiga-toxin producing E. coli: Another reason to avoid pigeon poop

Verotoxigenic Escherichia coli infections in humans cause disease ranging from uncomplicated intestinal illnesses to bloody diarrhea and systemic sequelae, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Previous research indicated that pigeons may be a reservoir for a population of verotoxigenic E. coli producing the VT2f variant.

pigeon-poop-shamelessWe used whole-genome sequencing to characterize a set of VT2f-producing E. coli strains from human patients with diarrhea or HUS and from healthy pigeons. We describe a phage conveying the vtx2f genes and provide evidence that the strains causing milder diarrheal disease may be transmitted to humans from pigeons.

The strains causing HUS could derive from VT2f phage acquisition by E. coli strains with a virulence genes asset resembling that of typical HUS-associated verotoxigenic E. coli.

Whole-genome characterization and strain comparison of VT2f-producing Escherichia coli causing hemolytic uremic syndrome

Emerging Infectious Diseases, December 2016, Volume 22, Number 12,