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DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2015 15F629 Teagasc (UCD, HSE) €1,249,332

Project Title:

Surveillance of Verocytotoxigenic E. coli in Ireland: A One Health Approach

Project Coordinator:

Dr Geraldine Duffy

Project Abstract

Ireland has the highest rate of human clinical cases of verocytotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC) in the EU, at around 15 cases per 100,000 population, compared to an EU average of 1 case per 100,000. Globally, the profile of VTEC strains causing human illness is continuing to change, and a diversity of serogroups outside the top six (O157, O26, O103, O111, O145, O104), with a variety of virulence profiles, now account for a substantial proportion of VTEC human clinical illness cases ( ~ 30% in EU in 2013, EFSA, 2015). It is not currently possible to fully define markers for human pathogenic VTEC or the factors that absolutely predict potential to cause human disease (EFSA, 2013). Nonetheless EU DG SANCO and the MS Competent Authorities are taking the view that ‘unknown risk’ does not mean ‘no risk’ and that a risk assessment is required if VTEC is recovered in a food product. This illustrates the continuing emergence and challenges posed by this diverse group on pathogens for the consumer, regulators and food business operators (FBOs). This project proposes a One Health approach to surveillance of VTEC in Ireland, with cross-sectoral collaborations across the environment, agri-food chain, veterinary and human public health. Value will be added, by linking the proposed project with other externally funded research and activities on this pathogen. The project will address key data gaps in Ireland on the prevalence and types of VTEC circulating in the agri-food chain and assessment of their human risk potential. The scientific platform to be exploited will be whole genome sequencing of Irish VTEC strains from the environment (wild-life, water, waste), food producing animals (cattle and sheep), food (raw milk cheese, sprouted seeds and fresh produce, meat), and human illness facilitating a national comprehensive comparative analysis of strains from across the total chain, in line with approaches currently being taken in other countries. The metadata on all isolates will be combined with phylogenetic information from the WGS to investigate geographical and temporal linkages and for source attribution of human VTEC isolates.

Final Report:

Not available yet.