Epidemiological Aspects of Escherichia albertii Outbreaks in Japan and Genetic Characteristics of the Causative Pathogen

Kanako Masuda, Tadasuke Ooka, Hiroko Akita, Takahiro Hiratsuka, Shinichi Takao, Mami Fukada, Kaori Inoue, Mikiko Honda, Junko Toda, Wakana Sugitani, Hiroshi Narimatsu, Taisei Ishioka, Shinichiro Hirai, Tsuyoshi Sekizuka, Makoto Kuroda, Yukio Morita, Tetsuya Hayashi, Hirokazu Kimura, Kazunori Oishi, Makoto OhnishiShuji Fujimoto, Koichi Murakami

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Zoonotic pathogen Escherichia albertii has been identified as the cause of several human disease outbreaks; however, factors such as the general symptoms and incubation period of E. albertii infection have yet to be defined. Therefore, we aimed to determine the unique aspects of E. albertii outbreaks in Japan and to examine the genetic characteristics of the causative pathogen. We studied all known E. albertii outbreaks that occurred in Japan up until 2015, which consisted of five confirmed outbreaks and one putative outbreak (Outbreaks 1-6). Outbreaks were re-examined based on personal communications between researchers in prefectural and municipal public health institutes, and through examination of any published study conducted at the time. Draft genome sequences of outbreak-associated E. albertii isolates were also generated. The most common symptom displayed by patients across the six episodes was watery diarrhea (>80%), followed by abdominal pain (50-84%) and fever (37.0-39.5°C) (26-44%). The estimated average incubation period of E. albertii infection was 12-24 h. We assumed that most of the outbreaks were foodborne or waterborne, with restaurant foods, restaurant water, and boxed lunches being the suspected transmission vehicles. Three of the six outbreak-associated E. albertii isolates possessed intact ETT2 regions, while the remaining isolates contained disrupted ETT2-encoding genes. Virulence gene screening revealed that more than half (44/70) of the tested genes were present in all 5 strains examined, and that each of the strains contained more than 1 gene from 14 out of the 21 groups of virulence genes examined in this study. The five E. albertii strains were classified into four of the five known phylogroups. Therefore, we determined that multiple E. albertii genotypes in Japan have the potential to cause outbreaks of diarrhea, abdominal pain, and/or fever following infection of a human host.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-150
Number of pages7
JournalFoodborne Pathogens and Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Microbiology


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