The presence of bacteria in food, can favor the deterioration, reduce the quality of these products, and may represent a risk to the consumer health. Diarrhea is a major public health problem worldwide, accounting for more than two million deaths each year, especially among children under five years of age. The most frequently bacteria isolated in diarrhea outbreaks comprise: Escherichia coli, Shigella spp., Salmonella spp., Campylobacter jejuni and Vibrio cholera. The transmission of these pathogens frequently occurs by the fecal-oral route, and the high incidence of diarrheal outbreaks is directly linked to social and environmental factors, such as lack or poor sanitary conditions, water contamination, and inappropriate food preparation. Escherichia coli associated with intestinal infections in both children and adults are known as diarrheagenic E. coli and are classified into six distinct pathotypes, according to the virulence mechanisms, clinical syndromes, serotypes (O:H), epidemiological aspects and the type of interaction with epithelial cells cultured in vitro. The diarrheagenic E. coli pathotypes are: enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC), enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) and diffusely adherent E. coli (DAEC). The present study aims to evaluate the prevalence of EPEC, EAEC and EHEC/STEC in ground meat samples retailed in Botucatu-SP, and to characterize the isolates classified as DEC for their potential to interact with epithelial cells in vitro.
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