Molecular characterization and antimicrobial resistance of faecal and urinary Escherichia coli isolated from dogs and humans in Italy.
Formally included in the larger category of extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC), the uropathogenic E. coli remains the most frequent cause of urinary tract infection (UTI), an important endemic health problem. The genomic DNA of E. coli urinary isolates from adults diagnosed with urinary tract infections and of E. coli fecal isolates from healthy subjects was analysed by PCR for the presence of virulence factor encoding genes pap, sfa/foc, afa, hly and cnf and by field inversion gel electrophoresis (FIGE) fingerprinting of XbaI DNA macrorestriction fragments. The aim was to obtain more detailed microbiological data regarding the community circulating strains in respect of their virulence potential and genetic relatedness. Almost 70% of the urinary strains carried at least one of the target virulence genes, and only 35.5% of the fecal E. coli strains were positive in the PCR screening. Taking into account the virulence genotypes exhibited, a part of the strains isolated from the urinary tract could be defined as belonging to the ExPEC pathotype. A unique FIGE profile was obtained for each of the selected isolates and the dendrogram generated by Taxotron software package analysis suggested a polyclonal population of potential uropathogenic strains clustered into 14 groups of only 60% similarity. For better understanding the epidemiology of UTIs, diseases commonly caused by such a heterogeneous species like E. coli, molecular analysis methods could be essential due to their increased power of identification and fingerprinting.