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1.  Primary Amine Oxidase of Escherichia coli Is a Metabolic Enzyme that Can Use a Human Leukocyte Molecule as a Substrate 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(11):e0142367.
Escherichia coli amine oxidase (ECAO), encoded by the tynA gene, catalyzes the oxidative deamination of aromatic amines into aldehydes through a well-established mechanism, but its exact biological role is unknown. We investigated the role of ECAO by screening environmental and human isolates for tynA and characterizing a tynA-deletion strain using microarray analysis and biochemical studies. The presence of tynA did not correlate with pathogenicity. In tynA+ Escherichia coli strains, ECAO enabled bacterial growth in phenylethylamine, and the resultant H2O2 was released into the growth medium. Some aminoglycoside antibiotics inhibited the enzymatic activity of ECAO, which could affect the growth of tynA+ bacteria. Our results suggest that tynA is a reserve gene used under stringent environmental conditions in which ECAO may, due to its production of H2O2, provide a growth advantage over other bacteria that are unable to manage high levels of this oxidant. In addition, ECAO, which resembles the human homolog hAOC3, is able to process an unknown substrate on human leukocytes.
PMCID: PMC4640556  PMID: 26556595
2.  Comparative Genomics and Characterization of Hybrid Shigatoxigenic and Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC/ETEC) Strains 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(8):e0135936.
Shigatoxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) and enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) cause serious foodborne infections in humans. These two pathogroups are defined based on the pathogroup-associated virulence genes: stx encoding Shiga toxin (Stx) for STEC and elt encoding heat-labile and/or est encoding heat-stable enterotoxin (ST) for ETEC. The study investigated the genomics of STEC/ETEC hybrid strains to determine their phylogenetic position among E. coli and to define the virulence genes they harbor.
The whole genomes of three STEC/ETEC strains possessing both stx and est genes were sequenced using PacBio RS sequencer. Two of the strains were isolated from the patients, one with hemolytic uremic syndrome, and one with diarrhea. The third strain was of bovine origin. Core genome analysis of the shared chromosomal genes and comparison with E. coli and Shigella spp. reference genomes was performed to determine the phylogenetic position of the STEC/ETEC strains. In addition, a set of virulence genes and ETEC colonization factors were extracted from the genomes. The production of Stx and ST were studied.
The human STEC/ETEC strains clustered with strains representing ETEC, STEC, enteroaggregative E. coli, and commensal and laboratory-adapted E. coli. However, the bovine STEC/ETEC strain formed a remote cluster with two STECs of bovine origin. All three STEC/ETEC strains harbored several other virulence genes, apart from stx and est, and lacked ETEC colonization factors. Two STEC/ETEC strains produced both toxins and one strain Stx only.
This study shows that pathogroup-associated virulence genes of different E. coli can co-exist in strains originating from different phylogenetic lineages. The possibility of virulence genes to be associated with several E. coli pathogroups should be taken into account in strain typing and in epidemiological surveillance. Development of novel hybrid E. coli strains may cause a new public health risk, which challenges the traditional diagnostics of E. coli infections.
PMCID: PMC4551483  PMID: 26313149
3.  Prevalence and diversity of Salmonella enterica in water, fish and lettuce in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso 
BMC Microbiology  2015;15:151.
This study investigated the prevalence, serotypes and antimicrobial sensitivity patterns of Salmonella enterica in environment in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. A total of 476 samples, consisting of 36 samples of tap water, 51 samples of well water, 87 samples of channel water, 44 samples of reservoir water, 238 samples of fish, and 20 samples of lettuce were examined using standard bacteriological procedures for Salmonella.
Salmonella were isolated from 98 samples. Salmonella were rare in drinking water, since they were not found at all from the tap water, and only in 2 % of well water. Salmonella were more common in the water of reservoir of Tanghin (15 %), reservoir of Yamtenga (20 %), and in the water channels in the city (from 20 to 31 %). Salmonella were commonly isolated from the fish (24 %) caught from the reservoir of Tanghin and from the lettuce (50 %) irrigated with water from Tanghin. The Salmonella isolates were found to represent 50 different serotypes. The 11 most common serotypes were Salmonella Bredeney and S. Colindale (both 8.2 %), S. Muenster (6.1 %), S. Korlebu (5.1 %), S. Eastbourne and S. Poona (both 4.1 %), and S. Agona, S. Derby, S. Drac, S. Senftenberg, S. Waycross (each 3.1 %), accounting for 51.3 % of all the isolates. In general, the Salmonella strains were sensitive to the antimicrobials tested, but two strains were resistant to streptomycin and many more intermediate to streptomycin or sulphonamide.
This study highlights the common prevalence of Salmonella and the high diversity of Salmonella serotypes in aquatic environment in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Therefore, various human activities linked to water and consumption of water-related products, such as fish and lettuce, can lead to human Salmonella infections.
PMCID: PMC4521495  PMID: 26228572
Salmonella; Serotypes; Water; Fish; Lettuce; Antimicrobials
4.  Characterization of Salmonella Typhimurium isolates from domestically acquired infections in Finland by phage typing, antimicrobial susceptibility testing, PFGE and MLVA 
BMC Microbiology  2015;15:131.
Salmonella enterica spp. enterica serotype Typhimurium (STM) is the most common agent of domestically acquired salmonellosis in Finland. Subtyping methods which allow the characterization of STM are essential for effective laboratory-based STM surveillance and for recognition of outbreaks. This study describes the diversity of Finnish STM isolates using phage typing, antimicrobial susceptible testing, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA), and compares the discriminatory power and the concordance of these methods.
A total of 375 sporadic STM isolates were analysed. The isolates were divided into 31 definite phage (DT) types, dominated by DT1 (47 % of the isolates), U277 (9 % of the isolates) and DT104 (8 % of the isolates). Of all the isolates, 62 % were susceptible to all the 12 antimicrobials tested and 11 % were multidrug resistant. Subtyping resulted in 83 different XbaI-PFGE profiles and 111 MLVA types. The three most common XbaI-PFGE profiles (STYM1, STYM7 and STYM8) and one MLVA profile with three single locus variants accounted for 56 % and 49 % of the STM isolates, respectively. The studied isolates showed a genetic similarity of more than 70 % by XbaI-PFGE. In MLVA, 71 % of the isolates lacked STTR6 and 77 % missed STTR10p loci. Nevertheless, the calculated Simpson’s diversity index for XbaI-PFGE was 0.829 (95 % CI 0.792−0.865) and for MLVA 0.867 (95 % CI 0.835−0.898). However, the discriminatory power of the 5-loci MLVA varied among the phage types. The highest concordance of the results was found between XbaI-PFGE and phage typing (adjusted Wallace coefficient was 0.833 and adjusted Rand coefficient was 0.627).
In general, the calculated discriminatory power was higher for genotyping methods (MLVA and XbaI-PFGE) than for phenotyping methods (phage typing). Overall, comparable diversity indices were calculated for PFGE and MLVA (both DI > 0.8). However, MLVA was phage type dependent providing better discrimination of the most common phage types. Furthermore, 5-loci MLVA was a less laborious method and easier to interpret than XbaI-PFGE. Thus, the laboratory-based surveillance of the Finnish human STM infections has been conducted with a combination of phage typing, antimicrobial susceptibility testing and 5-loci MLVA since January 2014.
PMCID: PMC4487797  PMID: 26129826
Salmonella Typhimurium; Molecular subtyping; PFGE; MLVA; Phage typing; Antimicrobial resistance profiling; MDR
5.  Characterization of Shigella sonnei Isolate Carrying Shiga Toxin 2–Producing Gene 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2015;21(5):891-892.
PMCID: PMC4412214  PMID: 25897522
Shigella sonnei; Shiga toxin 2; STEC; diarrhea; virulence factors; bacteria; bacillary dysentery; shigellosis
6.  Novel Microbiological and Spatial Statistical Methods to Improve Strength of Epidemiological Evidence in a Community-Wide Waterborne Outbreak 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104713.
Failures in the drinking water distribution system cause gastrointestinal outbreaks with multiple pathogens. A water distribution pipe breakage caused a community-wide waterborne outbreak in Vuorela, Finland, July 2012. We investigated this outbreak with advanced epidemiological and microbiological methods. A total of 473/2931 inhabitants (16%) responded to a web-based questionnaire. Water and patient samples were subjected to analysis of multiple microbial targets, molecular typing and microbial community analysis. Spatial analysis on the water distribution network was done and we applied a spatial logistic regression model. The course of the illness was mild. Drinking untreated tap water from the defined outbreak area was significantly associated with illness (RR 5.6, 95% CI 1.9–16.4) increasing in a dose response manner. The closer a person lived to the water distribution breakage point, the higher the risk of becoming ill. Sapovirus, enterovirus, single Campylobacter jejuni and EHEC O157:H7 findings as well as virulence genes for EPEC, EAEC and EHEC pathogroups were detected by molecular or culture methods from the faecal samples of the patients. EPEC, EAEC and EHEC virulence genes and faecal indicator bacteria were also detected in water samples. Microbial community sequencing of contaminated tap water revealed abundance of Arcobacter species. The polyphasic approach improved the understanding of the source of the infections, and aided to define the extent and magnitude of this outbreak.
PMCID: PMC4141750  PMID: 25147923
7.  Cefotaxime-Resistant Salmonella enterica in Travelers Returning from Thailand to Finland 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(7):1214-1217.
During 1993–2011, cefotaxime resistance among Salmonella enterica isolates from patients in Finland increased substantially. Most of these infections originated in Thailand; many were qnr positive and belonged to S. enterica serovar Typhimurium and S. enterica monophasic serovar 4,[5],12:i:-. Although cefotaxime-resistant salmonellae mainly originate in discrete geographic areas, they represent a global threat.
PMCID: PMC4073843  PMID: 24960266
Salmonella enterica; 4,[5],12:i:-; cefotaxime; resistant; qnr; Thailand; travelers; Finland; enteric infections
8.  Population structure of the Yersinia pseudotuberculosis complex according to multilocus sequence typing 
Environmental microbiology  2011;13(12):3114-3127.
Multilocus sequence analysis of 417 strains of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis revealed that it is a complex of four populations, three of which have been previously assigned species status [Y. pseudotuberculosis sensu stricto (s.s.), Yersinia pestis and Yersinia similis] and a fourth population, which we refer to as the Korean group, which may be in the process of speciation. We detected clear signs of recombination within Y. pseudotuberculosis s.s. as well as imports from Y. similis and the Korean group. The sources of genetic diversification within Y. pseudotuberculosis s.s. were approximately equally divided between recombination and mutation, whereas recombination has not yet been demonstrated in Y. pestis, which is also much more genetically monomorphic than is Y. pseudotuberculosis s.s. Most Y. pseudotuberculosis s.s. belong to a diffuse group of sequence types lacking clear population structure, although this species contains a melibiose-negative clade that is present globally in domesticated animals. Yersinia similis corresponds to the previously identified Y. pseudotuberculosis genetic type G4, which is probably not pathogenic because it lacks the virulence factors that are typical for Y. pseudotuberculosis s.s. In contrast, Y. pseudotuberculosis s.s., the Korean group and Y. pestis can all cause disease in humans.
PMCID: PMC3988354  PMID: 21951486
9.  Prevalence and characterization of Salmonella enterica from the feces of cattle, poultry, swine and hedgehogs in Burkina Faso and their comparison to human Salmonella isolates 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:253.
Production and wild animals are major sources of human salmonellosis and animals raised for food also play an important role in transmission of antimicrobial resistant Salmonella strains to humans. Furthermore, in sub-Saharan Africa non-typhoidal Salmonella serotypes are common bloodstream isolates in febrile patients. Yet, little is known about the environmental reservoirs and predominant modes of transmission of these pathogens. The purpose of this study was to discover potential sources and distribution vehicles of Salmonella by isolating strains from apparently healthy slaughtered food animals and wild hedgehogs and by determining the genetic relatedness between the strains and human isolates. For this purpose, 729 feces samples from apparently healthy slaughtered cattle (n = 304), poultry (n = 350), swine (n = 50) and hedgehogs (n = 25) were examined for the presence of Salmonella enterica in Burkina Faso. The isolates were characterized by serotyping, antimicrobial-susceptibility testing, phage typing, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) with XbaI and BlnI restriction enzymes.
Of the 729 feces samples, 383 (53%) contained Salmonella, representing a total of 81 different serotypes. Salmonella was present in 52% of the cattle, 55% of the poultry, 16% of the swine and 96% of the hedgehog feces samples. Antimicrobial resistance was detected in 14% of the isolates. S. Typhimurium isolates from poultry and humans (obtained from a previous study) were multiresistant to the same antimicrobials (ampicillin, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, sulfonamides and trimethoprim), had the same phage type DT 56 and were closely related in PFGE. S. Muenster isolates from hedgehogs had similar PFGE patterns as the domestic animals.
Based on our results it seems that production and wild animals can share the same Salmonella serotypes and potentially transmit some of them to humans. As the humans and animals often live in close vicinity in Africa and the hygiene control of the meat retail chain is defective, high Salmonella carriage rates of the animals can pose a major public health risk in Burkina Faso. This underlines the necessity for a joint and coordinated surveillance and monitoring programs for salmonellosis in Africa.
PMCID: PMC3828578  PMID: 24215206
Salmonella; Serotypes; Antimicrobial resistance; Genetic relatedness; PFGE
11.  Usability and Performance of CHROMagar STEC Medium in Detection of Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli Strains 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(11):3586-3590.
The performance and usability of CHROMagar STEC medium (CHROMagar Microbiology, Paris, France) for routine detection of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains were examined. The ability of the medium to selectively propagate STEC strains differing by their serotypes and virulence genes was studied with a collection of diarrheagenic E. coli isolates (n = 365) consisting of 49 different serotypes and with non-STEC and other bacterial isolates (n = 264). A total of 272 diarrheagenic E. coli (75.0%) isolates covering 24 different serotypes grew on CHROMagar STEC. The highest detection sensitivities were observed within the STEC serogroups O26 (90.0%), O111 (100.0%), O121 (100.0%), O145 (100.0%), and O157 (84.9%), and growth on CHROMagar STEC was highly associated with the presence of the tellurite resistance gene (terD). The specificity of the medium was 98.9%. In addition, CHROMagar STEC was used in parallel with a Shiga toxin-detecting immunoassay (Ridaquick Verotoxin/O157 Combi; R-biopharm, Darmstadt, Germany) to screen fecal specimens (n = 47) collected from patients suffering from hemorrhagic diarrhea. Positive growth on CHROMagar STEC was confirmed by the Premier EHEC enzyme immunoassay (Meridian Bioscience, Inc., Cincinnati, OH), and discrepant results between the two screening methods were confirmed by stx gene-detecting PCR. All 16 of the 47 stool samples that showed positive growth on CHROMagar STEC were also positive in the confirmatory tests. CHROMagar STEC proved to be an interesting option for STEC screening, allowing good detection sensitivity and specificity and permitting strain isolation for further outbreak investigations when required.
PMCID: PMC3486272  PMID: 22933601
12.  Bacterial and viral etiology of childhood diarrhea in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:36.
Diarrhea is the most frequent health problem among children in developing countries. This study investigated the bacterial and viral etiology and related clinical and epidemiological factors in children with acute diarrhea in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Stool specimens were collected from 283 children under 5 years of age visiting hospital due to acute diarrhea and from 60 healthy controls of similar age. Pathogens were investigated by using conventional culture techniques, PCR and immunochromatographic testing. Salmonella and Shigella strains were serotyped and their susceptibility to 23 antimicrobial agents was determined by the agar dilution method.
At least one pathogen was detected in 64% of the 283 patients and in 8% of the 60 controls (p < 0.001). Rotavirus was found in 30% of the patients, followed by diarrheagenic Escherichia coli (24%), Salmonella enterica ssp. enterica (9%), Shigella spp. (6%), adenovirus (5%) and Campylobacter spp. (2%). Multiple pathogens were found in 11% of the patients and in 2% of the controls (p = 0.028). Viruses were found mainly in children of ≤ 2 years of age, whereas bacteria were equally prevalent among all the age groups. Viral infections occurred mostly during the cool dry season and the bacterial infections during the rainy season. Fever (64%) and vomiting (61%) were the most common symptoms associated with diarrhea. Only one Salmonella strain was resistant to nalidixic acid and ciprofloxacin. Of the Shigella strains, one was resistant to nalidixic acid but 81% to trimethoprim- sulfamethoxazole, 63% to streptomycin and 50% to ampicillin. Most of all the other Salmonella and Shigella strains were sensitive to all antimicrobials tested.
Rotaviruses and diarrheal E. coli were the most predominant pathogens associated with acute diarrhea in Burkinabe children. Constant antimicrobial surveillance is warranted to observe for the emergence of enteric bacteria resistant to antimicrobials that are important in treatment also of severe infections.
PMCID: PMC3616825  PMID: 23506294
13.  Clinical isolates of Yersinia enterocolitica Biotype 1A represent two phylogenetic lineages with differing pathogenicity-related properties 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:208.
Y. enterocolitica biotype (BT) 1A strains are often isolated from human clinical samples but their contribution to disease has remained a controversial topic. Variation and the population structure among the clinical Y. enterocolitica BT 1A isolates have been poorly characterized. We used multi-locus sequence typing (MLST), 16S rRNA gene sequencing, PCR for ystA and ystB, lipopolysaccharide analysis, phage typing, human serum complement killing assay and analysis of the symptoms of the patients to characterize 298 clinical Y. enterocolitica BT 1A isolates in order to evaluate their relatedness and pathogenic potential.
A subset of 71 BT 1A strains, selected based on their varying LPS patterns, were subjected to detailed genetic analyses. The MLST on seven house-keeping genes (adk, argA, aroA, glnA, gyrB, thrA, trpE) conducted on 43 of the strains discriminated them into 39 MLST-types. By Bayesian analysis of the population structure (BAPS) the strains clustered conclusively into two distinct lineages, i.e. Genetic groups 1 and 2. The strains of Genetic group 1 were more closely related (97% similarity) to the pathogenic bio/serotype 4/O:3 strains than Genetic group 2 strains (95% similarity). Further comparison of the 16S rRNA genes of the BT 1A strains indicated that altogether 17 of the 71 strains belong to Genetic group 2. On the 16S rRNA analysis, these 17 strains were only 98% similar to the previously identified subspecies of Y. enterocolitica. The strains of Genetic group 2 were uniform in their pathogenecity-related properties: they lacked the ystB gene, belonged to the same LPS subtype or were of rough type, were all resistant to the five tested yersiniophages, were largely resistant to serum complement and did not ferment fucose. The 54 strains in Genetic group 1 showed much more variation in these properties. The most commonly detected LPS types were similar to the LPS types of reference strains with serotypes O:6,30 and O:6,31 (37%), O:7,8 (19%) and O:5 (15%).
The results of the present study strengthen the assertion that strains classified as Y. enterocolitica BT 1A represent more than one subspecies. Especially the BT 1A strains in our Genetic group 2 commonly showed resistance to human serum complement killing, which may indicate pathogenic potential for these strains. However, their virulence mechanisms remain unknown.
PMCID: PMC3512526  PMID: 22985268
Yersinia enterocolitica biotype 1A; MLST; 16S rRNA gene; yst genes; LPS; Phage typing; Human serum complement killing; Bayesian analysis of population structure; Pathogenicity
14.  Prevalence of diarrheagenic Escherichia coli virulence genes in the feces of slaughtered cattle, chickens, and pigs in Burkina Faso 
MicrobiologyOpen  2012;1(3):276-284.
We investigated the prevalence of the virulence genes specific for five major pathogroups of diarrheagenic Escherichia coli (DEC) in primary cultures from feces of animals slaughtered for human consumption in Burkina Faso. For the study, 704 feces samples were collected from cattle (n = 304), chickens (n = 350), and pigs (n = 50) during carcass processing. The presence of the virulence-associated genes in the mixed bacterial cultures was assessed using 16-plex polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Virulence genes indicating presence of DEC were detected in 48% of the cattle, 48% of the chicken, and 68% of the pig feces samples. Virulence genes specific for different DECs were detected in the following percentages of the cattle, chicken, and pig feces samples: Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in 37%, 6%, and 30%; enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) in 8%, 37%, and 32%; enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) in 4%, 5%, and 18%; and enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) in 7%, 6%, and 32%. Enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC) virulence genes were detected in 1% of chicken feces samples only. The study was the first of its kind in Burkina Faso and revealed the common occurrence of the diarrheal virulence genes in feces of food animals. This indicates that food animals are reservoirs of DEC that may contaminate meat because of the defective slaughter and storage conditions and pose a health risk to the consumers in Burkina Faso.
PMCID: PMC3496972  PMID: 23170227
Cattle; chickens; diarrheagenic Escherichia coli; multiplex PCR; pigs; virulence genes
15.  Inaccuracy of the Disk Diffusion Method Compared with the Agar Dilution Method for Susceptibility Testing of Campylobacter spp. 
The agar dilution method has been standardized by the CLSI for the susceptibility testing of Campylobacter species, and according to these standards, the disk diffusion method should be used only in screening for macrolide and ciprofloxacin resistance. Nevertheless, the disk diffusion test is currently widely used, since it is easy to perform in clinical microbiology laboratories. In this study, the disk diffusion method was compared to the agar dilution method by analyzing the in vitro activities of seven antimicrobial agents against 174 Campylobacter strains collected in Finland between 2003 and 2008. Recommendations of the CLSI were followed using Mueller-Hinton agar plates with 5% of sheep blood. For each strain, the disk diffusion tests were performed two to four times. Of the 33 erythromycin-resistant strains (MIC, ≥16 μg/ml), 24 (73%) constantly showed a 6-mm erythromycin inhibition zone (i.e., no inhibition), while for seven strains the inhibition zone varied from 6 to 44 mm in repeated measurements. Among the 141 erythromycin-susceptible strains (MIC, <16 μg/ml), erythromycin inhibition zones varied between 6 and 61 mm. Of the 87 ciprofloxacin-resistant strains, 47 (54%) showed 6-mm inhibition zones, while 40 strains showed inhibition zones between 6 and 60 mm. Significant differences between the repetitions were observed in the disk diffusion for all antimicrobial agents and all strains except for the macrolide-resistant strains regarding the macrolides. For 17 (10%) strains, the variation in repeated measurements was substantial. These results show that the disk diffusion method may not be a reliable tool for the susceptibility testing of Campylobacter spp. Further studies are needed to assess whether the disk diffusion test could be improved or whether all susceptibilities of campylobacters should be tested using an MIC-based method.
PMCID: PMC3256729  PMID: 22075583
16.  Ribosomal Mutations as the Main Cause of Macrolide Resistance in Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli ▿ 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2011;55(12):5939-5941.
The aim of this study was to examine macrolide resistance mutations in Campylobacter species. In 76 strains studied, point mutation A to G at position 2059 of the 23S rRNA gene was detected in 30 of the 33 erythromycin-resistant strains. An amino acid insertion in the ribosomal protein L22 was found in one resistant strain without a 23S rRNA mutation. The A2059G mutation is the main cause of macrolide resistance in Campylobacter species.
PMCID: PMC3232809  PMID: 21911571
17.  Shiga Toxin–producing Escherichia coli Serotype O78:H– in Family, Finland, 2009 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2012;18(4):577-581.
STEC carrying stx1c and hlyA genes can invade the human bloodstream.
Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is a pathogen that causes gastroenteritis and bloody diarrhea but can lead to severe disease, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). STEC serotype O78:H– is rare among humans, and infections are often asymptomatic. We detected a sorbitol-fermenting STEC O78:H–stx1c:hlyA in blood and fecal samples of a 2-week-old boy who had bacteremia and HUS and in fecal samples of his asymptomatic family members. The phenotypic and genotypic characteristics and the virulence properties of this invasive STEC were investigated. Our findings demonstrate that contrary to earlier suggestions, STEC under certain conditions can invade the human bloodstream. Moreover, this study highlights the need to implement appropriate diagnostic methods for identifying the whole spectrum of STEC strains associated with HUS.
PMCID: PMC3309701  PMID: 22469631
Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS); cross-contamination; invasive Shiga toxin–producing E. coli; STEC; stx1c; bacteremia; bacteria; zoonoses
18.  Agricultural, socioeconomic and environmental variables as risks for human verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC) infection in Finland 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:275.
Verotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC) is the cause of severe gastrointestinal infection especially among infants. Between 10 and 20 cases are reported annually to the National Infectious Disease Register (NIDR) in Finland. The aim of this study was to identify explanatory variables for VTEC infections reported to the NIDR in Finland between 1997 and 2006. We applied a hurdle model, applicable for a dataset with an excess of zeros.
We enrolled 131 domestically acquired primary cases of VTEC between 1997 and 2006 from routine surveillance data. The isolated strains were characterized by virulence type, serogroup, phage type and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. By applying a two-part Bayesian hurdle model to infectious disease surveillance data, we were able to create a model in which the covariates were associated with the probability for occurrence of the cases in the logistic regression part and the magnitude of covariate changes in the Poisson regression part if cases do occur. The model also included spatial correlations between neighbouring municipalities.
The average annual incidence rate was 4.8 cases per million inhabitants based on the cases as reported to the NIDR. Of the 131 cases, 74 VTEC O157 and 58 non-O157 strains were isolated (one person had dual infections). The number of bulls per human population and the proportion of the population with a higher education were associated with an increased occurrence and incidence of human VTEC infections in 70 (17%) of 416 of Finnish municipalities. In addition, the proportion of fresh water per area, the proportion of cultivated land per area and the proportion of low income households with children were associated with increased incidence of VTEC infections.
With hurdle models we were able to distinguish between risk factors for the occurrence of the disease and the incidence of the disease for data characterised by an excess of zeros. The density of bulls and the proportion of the population with higher education were significant both for occurrence and incidence, while the proportion of fresh water, cultivated land, and the proportion of low income households with children were significant for the incidence of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3226588  PMID: 22008456
19.  Multilocus Variable-Number Tandem-Repeat Analysis, Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis, and Antimicrobial Susceptibility Patterns in Discrimination of Sporadic and Outbreak-Related Strains of Yersinia enterocolitica 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:42.
We assessed the potential of multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA), pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and antimicrobial susceptibility testing for discriminating 104 sporadic and outbreak-related Yersinia enterocolitica (YE) bio/serotype 3-4/O:3 and 2/O:9 isolates. MLVA using six VNTR markers was performed in two separate multiplex PCRs, and the fluorescently labeled PCR products were accurately sized on an automated DNA sequencer.
MLVA discriminated 82 sporadic YE 3-4/O:3 and 2/O:9 strains into 77 types, whereas PFGE with the restriction enzyme NotI discriminated the strains into 23 different PFGE pulsotypes. The discriminatory index for a sporadic strain was 0.862 for PFGE and 0.999 for MLVA. MLVA confirmed that a foodborne outbreak in the city of Kotka, Finland in 2003 had been caused by a multiresistant YE 4/O:3 strain that was distinctly different from those of epidemiologically unrelated strains with an identical PFGE pulsotype. The multiresistance of Y. enterocolitica strains (19% of the sporadic strains) correlated significantly (p = 0.002) with travel abroad. All of the multiresistant Y. enterocolitica strains belonged to four PFGE pulsotypes that did not contain any susceptible strains. Resistance to nalidixic acid was related to changes in codons 83 or 87 that stemmed from mutations in the gyrA gene. The conjugation experiments demonstrated that resistance to CHL, STR, and SUL was carried by a conjugative plasmid.
MLVA using six loci had better discriminatory power than PFGE with the NotI enzyme. MLVA was also a less labor-intensive method than PFGE and the results were easier to analyze. The conjugation experiments demonstrated that a resistance plasmid can easily be transferred between Y. enterocolitica strains. Antimicrobial multiresistance of Y. enterocolitica strains was significantly associated with travel abroad.
PMCID: PMC3053224  PMID: 21349206
20.  In Vitro Activity of Azithromycin against Nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica▿  
The in vitro activity of azithromycin against 1,237 nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica isolates collected from Finnish patients between 2003 and 2008 was investigated. Only 24 (1.9%) of the isolates tested and 15 (5.1%) of the 294 isolates with reduced fluoroquinolone susceptibility had azithromycin MICs of ≥32 μg/ml. These data show that azithromycin has good in vitro activity against nontyphoidal S. enterica, and thus, it may be a good candidate for clinical treatment studies of salmonellosis.
PMCID: PMC2916314  PMID: 20498312
21.  Antimicrobial Susceptibilities of Multidrug-Resistant Campylobacter jejuni and C. coli Strains: In Vitro Activities of 20 Antimicrobial Agents ▿  
There is a paucity of information regarding antimicrobial agents that are suitable to treat severe infections caused by multidrug-resistant Campylobacter spp. Our aim was to identify agents that are potentially effective against multiresistant Campylobacter strains. The in vitro activities of 20 antimicrobial agents against 238 Campylobacter strains were analyzed by determining MICs by the agar plate dilution method or the Etest. These strains were selected from 1,808 Campylobacter isolates collected from Finnish patients between 2003 and 2005 and screened for macrolide susceptibility by using the disk diffusion test. The 238 strains consisted of 183 strains with erythromycin inhibition zone diameters of ≤23 mm and 55 strains with inhibition zone diameters of >23 mm. Of the 238 Campylobacter strains, 19 were resistant to erythromycin by MIC determinations (MIC ≥ 16 μg/ml). Given that the resistant strains were identified among the collection of 1,808 isolates, the frequency of erythromycin resistance was 1.1%. All erythromycin-resistant strains were multidrug resistant, with 18 (94.7%) of them being resistant to ciprofloxacin (MIC ≥ 4 μg/ml). The percentages of resistance to tetracycline and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid (co-amoxiclav) were 73.7% and 31.6%, respectively. All macrolide-resistant strains were susceptible to imipenem, meropenem, and tigecycline. Ten (52.6%) multiresistant strains were identified as being Campylobacter jejuni strains, and 9 (47.4%) were identified as being C. coli strains. These data demonstrate that the incidence of macrolide resistance was low but that the macrolide-resistant Campylobacter strains were uniformly multidrug resistant. In addition to the carbapenems, tigecycline was also highly effective against these multidrug-resistant Campylobacter strains in vitro. Its efficacy for the treatment of human campylobacteriosis should be evaluated in clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC2825995  PMID: 20038624
22.  Symptoms and sources of Yersinia enterocolitica-infection: a case-control study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:122.
Yersinia enterocolitica (YE) is the causative agent of yersiniosis. YE encompass strains of diverse pathogenicity: YE biotypes 1B and 2-5 are considered pathogenic, whereas biotype 1A is in general considered nonvirulent. Also YE-like species, which can sometimes be misidentified as YE, are considered nonvirulent.
In order to study differences in clinical picture caused by different YE types and their possible sources a case-control study was conducted in 2006. In this case-control study, 295 case-patients with YE or YE-like finding and their 758 controls responded to the questionnaire about symptoms and possible sources of infection.
Strains of pathogenic YE bio/serotypes 3-4/O:3 or 2/O:9 were found in 18%, YE biotype 1A in 65% and YE -like strains of 17% of the patients. Patients infected with the strains of pathogenic YE bio/serotypes were younger and had fever more often than those with BT 1A who suffered more from vomiting. Symptoms of reactive arthritis were reported by 10% of pathogenic YE infections, 3% of YE BT 1A, and 0.3% of the controls. Eating or tasting raw or medium done pork was a significant risk factor for pathogenic YE bio/serotype infection (OR 6.6; 95% CI 1.7-24.9) as well as eating in a canteen (OR 3.5; 95% CI 1.6-7.9). Imported fruits and berries were associated with increased risk of YE BT 1A finding.
The symptoms of the patients with YE BT 1A differed from yersiniosis caused by the classic pathogenic YE bio/serotypes. In addition, the patients with YE BT 1A had more protracted gastrointestinal disorders and unspecific complaints. Small children were overrepresented in classic pathogenic bio/serotypes while in BT 1A or YE-like species were not found among children younger than two years. This suggests the lacking virulence of the BT 1A strains. We can not, however, rule out the possibility that some strains of genetically heterogeneous group of BT 1A may cause an illness.
PMCID: PMC2883546  PMID: 20487529
23.  Mechanisms of Resistance in Nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica Strains Exhibiting a Nonclassical Quinolone Resistance Phenotype▿  
Nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica strains with a nonclassical quinolone resistance phenotype were isolated from patients returning from Thailand or Malaysia to Finland. A total of 10 isolates of seven serovars were studied in detail, all of which had reduced susceptibility (MIC ≥ 0.125 μg/ml) to ciprofloxacin but were either susceptible or showed only low-level resistance (MIC ≤ 32 μg/ml) to nalidixic acid. Phenotypic characterization included susceptibility testing by the agar dilution method and investigation of efflux activity. Genotypic characterization included the screening of mutations in the quinolone resistance-determining regions (QRDR) of gyrA, gyrB, parC, and parE by PCR and denaturing high-pressure liquid chromatography and the amplification of plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance (PMQR) genes qnrA, qnrB, qnrS, qnrD, aac(6′)-Ib-cr, and qepA by PCR. PMQR was confirmed by plasmid analysis, Southern hybridization, and plasmid transfer. No mutations in the QRDRs of gyrA, gyrB, parC, or parE were detected with the exception of a Thr57-Ser substitution within ParC seen in all but the S. enterica serovar Typhimurium strains. The qnrA and qnrS genes were the only PMQR determinants detected. Plasmids carrying qnr alleles were transferable in vitro, and the resistance phenotype was reproducible in Escherichia coli DH5α transformants. These data demonstrate the emergence of a highly mobile qnr genotype that, in the absence of mutation within topoisomerase genes, confers the nontypical quinolone resistance phenotype in S. enterica isolates. The qnr resistance mechanism enables bacteria to survive elevated quinolone concentrations, and therefore, strains carrying qnr alleles may be able to expand during fluoroquinolone treatment. This is of concern since nonclassical quinolone resistance is plasmid mediated and therefore mobilizable.
PMCID: PMC2737843  PMID: 19596880
24.  Chickens and Cattle as Sources of Sporadic Domestically Acquired Campylobacter jejuni Infections in Finland▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(16):5244-5249.
A substantial sampling among domestic human campylobacter cases, chicken process lots, and cattle at slaughter was performed during the seasonal peak of human infections. Campylobacter jejuni isolates (n = 419) were subtyped using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis with SmaI, and isolates representing overlapping types (n = 212) were further subtyped using KpnI for restriction. The SmaI/KpnI profiles of 55.4% (97/175) of the human isolates were indistinguishable from those of the chicken or cattle isolates. The overlapping SmaI/KpnI subtypes accounted for 69.8% (30/43) and 15.9% (32/201) of the chicken and cattle isolates, respectively. The occurrence of identical SmaI/KpnI subtypes with human C. jejuni isolates was significantly associated with animal host species (P < 0.001). A temporal association of isolates from chickens and patients was possible in 31.4% (55/175) of the human infections. Besides chickens as sources of C. jejuni in the sporadic infections, the role of cattle appears notable. New approaches to restrict the occurrence of campylobacters in other farm animals may be needed in addition to hygienic measures in chicken production. However, only about half of the human infections were attributable to these sources.
PMCID: PMC2725460  PMID: 19542336
25.  Reduced Fluoroquinolone Susceptibility in Salmonella enterica Isolates from Travelers, Finland 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2009;15(5):809-812.
We tested the fluoroquinolone susceptibility of 499 Salmonella enterica isolates collected from travelers returning to Finland during 2003–2007. Among isolates from travelers to Thailand and Malaysia, reduced fluoroquinolone susceptibility decreased from 65% to 22% (p = 0.002). All isolates showing nonclassical quinolone resistance were from travelers to these 2 countries.
PMCID: PMC2687029  PMID: 19402977
Antimicrobial resistance; enteric infections; nonclonal; reduced susceptibility; Salmonella enterica; serovar; travelers’ diarrhea; Finland; dispatch

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