Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Fecal analysis: hemolytic E. coli

Contributor(s): Helen Milner, James Simpson


  •  E. coli  Escherichia coli is a normal commensal found in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Presence of E. coli on routine culture is therefore common.
  • Pathological strains do occur and must be distinguished from pathogenic strains.
  • Must demonstrate:
  • Pathogenic strains include:
    • Enterotoxigenic E.coli (ETEC).
    • Enteropathogenic E.coli (EPEC).
    • Cytotoxic E.coli (VTEC/STEC).
    • Enteroaggressive E. coli (EAEC).


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  • Submit fecal samples for culture. Check with the receiving laboratory before requesting typing.
  • The receiving laboratory should be notified of a potentially pathogenic E. coli case.
  • Serotyping and PCR for determination of pathogenic strains of E. coli.
  • Intestinal biopsy samples for histopathology to confirm attachment of E. coli to mucosal cells.
    Dispose of consumables and fecal material following Health and Safety regulations.

Technique (intrinsic) limitations

  • Many microbiology laboratories will not have the facility to type E. coli.
  • Requires specialist laboratory examination in UK.
  • May fail to differentiate commensal from pathogenic E. coli.

Further Reading


Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Manual of Small Animal Clinical Pathology. (1998) Davidson M, Else R & Lumsden J (eds), BSAVA.
  • Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians. (1998) 4th edn McCurnin D M (ed), W B Saunders.
  • BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Gastroenterology. (1997) Thomas D A et al (eds), Iowa State University Press.
  • Laboratory Procedures for Veterinary Technicians. (1997) 3rd edn, Pratt P W (ed), Mosby.