Molecular types, virulence profiles and antimicrobial resistance of Escherichia coli causing bovine mastitis

17 Nov 2019

Nüesch-Inderbinen, M., Käppeli, N., Morach, M., Eicher, C., Corti, S., Stephan, R.

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Escherichia coli is an important aetiological agent of bovine mastitis worldwide.


In this study, 82 E. coli from bovine mastitis milk samples from 49 farms were analysed for their genetic diversity using phylogenetic grouping and multilocus sequence typing. The isolates were examined by PCR for a selection of virulence factors (VFs). Antimicrobial susceptibility profiles were assessed using the disk diffusion method.


The most prevalent phylogroups were group B1 (41.5 per cent of the isolates) and group A (30.5 per cent). A variety of 35 different sequence types (STs) were identified, including ST1125 (11 per cent), ST58 (9.8 per cent), ST10 (8.5 per cent) and ST88 (7.3 per cent). Aggregate VF scores (the number of unique VFs detected for each isolate) ranged from 1 to 3 for 63.4 per cent of the isolates and were at least 4 for 12.2 per cent. For 24.4 per cent of the isolates, the score was 0. The three most frequent VFs were traT, fyuA and iutA. The majority (72 per cent) of the isolates harboured traT. The majority (68.3 per cent) of the isolates were fully susceptible to all antimicrobials tested, with 22 per cent resistant to ampicillin and 14.6 per cent to tetracycline. Resistance rates were low for gentamicin (3.7 per cent), amoxicillin/clavulanic acid (2.4 per cent) and ceftiofur (1.2 per cent), respectively.


Among the study’s sample population, E. coli strains were genotypically diverse, even in cows from the same farm, although some STs occurred more frequently than others. Susceptibility to clinically relevant compounds remained high.