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Prevalence and Characterisation of Verotoxigenic-E. coli Isolates from Pigs in Malaysia

18 June 2013

Verotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC) was identified on six pig farms in Malaysia by researchers based in Kuala Lumpur. Prevalence was low but all isolates showed multi-drug resistance.

Post-weaning diarrhoea caused by pathogenic Escherichia coli, in particular verotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC), has caused significant economic losses in the pig farming industry worldwide, according to S. Ho Wing of the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur and co-authors there and at the University Putra Malaysia and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin.

In a paper in BMC Veterinary Research recently, they explain that there is limited information on VTEC in Malaysia. The objective of their latest study was to characterise pathogenic E. coli isolated from post-weaning piglets and growers with respect to their antibiograms, carriage of extended-spectrum beta-lactamases, pathotypes, production of hemolysins and fimbrial adhesins, serotypes and genotypes.

They found that PCR detection of virulence factors associated with different E. coli pathotypes (ETEC, EPEC, EHEC, and VTEC) revealed that VTEC was the only pathotype identified from six pig farms located at north-western Peninsular Malaysia.

A low prevalence rate of VTEC was found among the swine samples (n = 7/345) and all seven VTEC isolates were multi-drug resistant.

Five of these isolates from different hosts raised in the same pen were likely to be of the same clone as they shared identical sero-pathotypes (O139:H1, VT2e/α-hly/F18), resistance profiles and DNA fingerprinting profiles. Two other serotypes, O130: H26 (n=1) and O168: H21 (n=1) carrying virulence factors were also identified.

O168: H21 is possibly a new serotype as this has not been previously reported.

Wing and co-authors concluded that the occurrence of VTEC with infrequently encountered serotypes that are multi-drug resistant and harbouring virulence factors may be of public health concern.

They added that the detection of possible clones in this study also showed that the combination of different typing tools including phenotyping and genotyping methods is useful for molecular epidemiological surveillance and studies.


Wing S.H., L.K. Tan, P.T. Ooi, C.C. Yeo and K.L. Thong. 2013. Prevalence and characterization of verotoxigenic-Escherichia coli isolates from pigs in Malaysia. BMC Veterinary Research, 9:109. doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-109

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

Find out more about E. coli post-weaning diarrhoea by clicking here.

June 2013

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