Intensive identification of human pathogenic shigatoxin producting Escherichia coli (STEC) in Belgium

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    The first aim of the IDESTEC project is to develop an effective method for the detection and isolation of STEC (Shiga toxin-Producing E. coli) from food of animal and plant origin, using classical microbiological and molecular techniques. Second is the genetic characterization of a large collection of STEC strains (national and international) in order to identify related isolates, detect possible transmission routes and define certain patho/serotypes which merit an increased awareness during monitoring programs. Among foodborne zoonoses, STEC is the fifth most important group in Belgium. But it is number one in terms of the effect on human health. For these reasons, efficient detection and isolation method remains essential for the management of this pathogen.

    Research approach
    The development and validation of a method for the detection of STEC consists of the following steps: 1) research in enrichment media that ensure an efficient growth of all human pathogenic STEC serotypes from food, 2) research in PCR screening methods that detect all subtypes of stx1 and stx2 genes in the enrichment media, 3) research in a selective isolation medium to enable the isolation of stx-positive isolates from stx-PCR positive enrichment media, 4) draft an effective protocol for the detection and isolation of STEC serotypes from food.

    The genetic characterization of the STEC isolates consists of: 1) detection of multiple virulence factors in the acquired STEC strains isolated from a diversity of sources, 2) genetic typing of these STEC isolates and 3) research in the genetic relatedness of the STEC strains.

    Once the development of a new method for the detection and isolation of STEC from food of animal and plant origin is completed, the protocol will be proposed to the EU-RL STEC and discussed during workshops with stakeholders, such as FAVV and laboratories for food analyses. The thorough characterization and identification of the collection of STEC strains will provide inside into contamination routes and the most common virulence factors. These results should facilitate the recommendations concerning which sero/pathotypes should be more closely monitored.

    External partner(s)
    Ugent - Fac. Diergeneeskunde
    WIV - Wetenschappelijk Instituut voor Volksgezondheid
    Effective start/end date1/10/1230/09/14