Clostridium perfringens is one of the most widespread pathogen producing toxins related to variable pathogenic conditions, particularly food poisoning in humans. Thus, this study described the prevalence, enumeration, toxigenic types and antibiotic susceptibility of C. perfringens strains isolated from minced meat in Egypt as well as the validation of a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for the identification of C. perfringens toxin genes. A high prevalence of C. perfringens (98/105, 93.3%) was detected in minced meat samples. The total count of viable C. perfringens in 23 samples was 2.0 × 102 to 4.5 × 102 with a mean value 3.7 × 102 ± 1.07 × 102 CFU/g. The toxin typing of C. perfringens based on lecithinase activity and dermonecrotic reactions in albino guinea pig exhibited 33 (33.7%) as toxigenic strains of C. perfringens type A and 65 (66.3%) as non-toxigenic strains. Antibiotic susceptibility testing of isolates against 15 different antimicrobial agents indicated that C. perfringens was extremely sensitive to penicillin, followed by erythromycin, tetracycline, doxycycline and amoxicillin. All the other drugs were relatively less effective against the isolates. The real time PCR (RT-PCR) was performed for screening of alpha (cpa), beta, epsilon, iota toxins and enterotoxin (cpe) genes in toxigenic isolates of C. perfringens type A. All toxigenic strains of C. perfringens type A (33, 33.7%) were positive for alpha toxin (cpa) and enterotoxin (cpe) genes, while none of these isolates carried beta, epsilon and iota toxin genes. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is one of the studies that used RT-PCR for the determination of toxigenic strains of C. perfringens in Egypt. It is suggested that RT-PCR could be used instead of the conventional culture procedures for identification of C. perfringens in minced meat in Egypt.
Key words: Clostridium perfringens, minced meat, alpha toxin (cpa) gene, enterotoxin (cpe) gene, real time-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
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