Phenotypic & genetic characterization of Bacillus cereus isolated from the acute diarrhoeal patients


Bacillus cereus is one of the pathogens responsible for human diarrhoea, mainly due to consumption of contaminated food. The present study was undertaken to determine the occurrence of B. cereus among diarrhoeal patients and its phenotypic and genetic characteristics that determine the virulence and clonal features.
Methods: Stool specimens were collected for two years from acute diarrhoeal patients attending the two referral hospitals in Kolkata. Presence of virulence genes in B. cereus was determined by PCR. Clonality was assessed by pulsed-field gel analysis (PFGE) by restriction digestion with SmaI and NotI enzymes. Enterotoxins were detected by haemolysin assay and using BCET-RPLA kit. Invasion assay was done on Hep-2 cell line. Antimicrobial susceptibility was tested by disc diffusion method.
Results: B. cereus was identified in 54 (3.5%) of the 1536 diarrhoeal cases studied. Majority of the isolates were susceptible to many antibiotics but showed resistant to amoxyclav and cephalosporins. Six genes covering the two different enterotoxic complexes determining the pathogenicity of B. cereus have been characterized by PCR. The nhe genes were detected in a higher proportion than hbl. Except in two, clonal diversity was noticed among 21 B. cereus isolates. Haemolytic enterotoxin was detected in 76 per cent of the isolates. Majority of the isolates (67%) produced in vitro enterotoxin (BCET) confirming its involvement in the infection.
Interpretation & conclusions: Though the presence of B. cereus was not high in patients with diarrhoea, several virulence factors confirm their association with diarrhoea. Distinct clonality was identified in majority of the isolates indicating their origin from different sources.

source: journal of ICMR

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