Virulence genes in Escherichia coli isolates from commercialized saltwater mussels Mytella guyanensis (Lamarck, 1819)

Abstract The isolation of Escherichia coli from food is a major concern. Pathogenic strains of these bacteria cause diseases which range from diarrhea to hemolytic-uremic syndrome. Therefore the virulence genes in E. coli isolates from the mussel ( Mytella guyanensis) commercialized in Cachoeira, Bahia, Brazil were investigated. Samples were purchased from four vendors: two from supermarkets and two from fair outlets. They were conditioned into isothermal boxes with reusable ice and transported to the laboratory for analysis. E. coli strains were isolated in eosin methylene blue agar, preserved in brain-heart infusion medium with 15% glycerol and stored at -20 °C, after microbiological analysis. Virulence genes in the isolated strains were identified by specific primers, with Polymerase Chain Reaction. Twenty-four isolates were obtained, with a prevalence of elt gene, typical from enterotoxigenic infection, in 75% of the isolates. The stx and bfpA genes, prevalent in enterohemorragic and enteropathogenic E. coli, respectively, were not detected. The occurrence of elt virulence-related gene in the E. coli isolates of Mytella guyanensis reveals urgent improvement in food processing, including good handling practices, adequate storage and cooking before consumption, to ensure consumer’s health.