Escherichia spp are a ubiquitous Gram-negative, anaerobic bacteria found on dog skin and mucus membranes.
Escherichia coli is the most pathogenic species which infect dogs, and is highly resistant to many antimicrobial drugs.
This bacteria is a common cause of diarrhoea associated with gastroenteritis, granulomatous colitis in French Bulldogs, cystitis, endometritis, pyometra, peritonitis and pneumonia and is one of the main species of bacteria living in the lower intestine. It is a zoonotic bacteria, capable of spreading between most mammalian species.
When located in the large intestine, E. coli bacteria assists with waste processing, vitamin K-production, and food absorption. As with all Gram-negative organisms, E. coli are unable to sporulate (unlike Clostridium spp, which sporulate, and causes tetanus - 'lockjaw'). Thus, treatments which kill all active bacteria, such as pasteurisation or simple boiling, are effective for their eradication.
Pathogenic symptoms induced by these diarrhoeagenic E. coli can be due to production of toxins or other virulence traits. Extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing E. coli have also been recorded.
Several assays are available for detection of diarrhoeagenic E. coli, including biochemical reactions, serotyping and phenotypic assays based on virulence characteristics. However, molecular detection by PCR has become a commonly-used method to detect and identify these bacteria because the method gives rapid and reliable results in addition to its high sensitivity and specificity.
Certain strains of E. coli behave as pathogens in dogs causing gastro-intestinal and extra-intestinal diseases.
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