A cluster of Shiga Toxin producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 highlights raw pet food as an emerging potential source of infection in humans

Lukeki Kaindama, Claire Jenkins, Heather Aird, Frieda Jorgensen, Kelly Stoker, Lisa Byrne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

In August 2017, a cluster of four persons infected with genetically related strains of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 was identified. These strains possessed the Shiga toxin (stx) subtype stx2a, a toxin type known to be associated with severe clinical outcome. One person died after developing Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome. Interviews with cases revealed that three of the cases had been exposed to dogs fed on a raw meat-based diet (RMBD), specifically tripe. In two cases, the tripe had been purchased from the same supplier. Sampling and microbiological screening of raw pet food was undertaken and indicated the presence of STEC in the products. STEC was isolated from one sample of raw tripe but was different to the strain causing illness in the humans. Nevertheless, the detection of STEC in the tripe provided evidence that raw pet food was a potential source of human STEC infection during this outbreak. This adds to the evidence of raw pet food as a risk factor for zoonotic transmission of Gastrointestinal pathogens, which is widely accepted for Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter spp. Feeding RMBD to companion animals has recently increased in popularity due to the belief that they provide health benefits to animals. Although still rare, an increase in STEC cases reporting exposure to RMBDs was detected in 2017. There has also been an increased frequency of raw pet food incidents in 2017, suggesting an increasing trend in potential risk to humans from raw pet food. Recommendations to reduce the risk of infection included improved awareness of risk and promotion of good hygiene practices amongst the public when handling raw pet food.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Early online date6 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Open Access: This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.

Publisher Copyright:© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press.

Citation: Kaindama L, Jenkins C, Aird H, Jorgensen F, Stoker K, Byrne L (2021). A
cluster of Shiga Toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 highlights raw pet food as an emerging potential source of infection in humans. Epidemiology and Infection 149, e124, 1–5.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268821001072

Keywords

  • One health
  • Outbreak
  • Raw pet food, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli

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