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Microb Drug Resist. 2008 Mar;14(1):71-7. doi: 10.1089/mdr.2008.0795.

Mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli isolates recovered from wild animals.

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  • 1Departamento de Ciências Veterinárias, Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal.


Seventy-two fecal samples obtained from wild animals in Portugal were sampled on Levine agar plates (non-supplemented with antibiotics), and Escherichia coli isolates were recovered from 56 of them (78%), obtaining a total of 112 E. coli isolates (two per sample). Susceptibility to 16 antibiotics was studied in these isolates, and the following percentages of resistance were obtained: tetracycline, streptomycin, ampicillin, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (SXT) (range 19-35%); nalidixic acid (14%); ciprofloxacin (9%); amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, gentamicin, tobramycin, and chloramphenicol (range 4.5-7%); cefotaxime, and aztreonam (1.8%); ceftazidime (0.9%); and amikacin, cefoxitin, and imipenem (0%). A bla(TEM) gene was found in 22 of the 25 ampicillin-resistant isolates, and the gene encoding CTX-M-14 beta-lactamase was identified in the two cefotaxime-resistant isolates (recovered from a common kestrel and a sparrowhawk), associated with bla(TEM-52) gene in one of them. Other resistance genes detected were as follows: aac(3)-II or aac(3)-IV genes in all gentamicin-resistant isolates; aadA1 or aadA2 in 22 of 25 streptomycin-resistant isolates; tet(A) and/or tet(B) in all 39 tetracycline-resistant isolates; and sul1 and/or sul2 and/or sul3 genes in all 21 SXT-resistant isolates. Two amino acid changes in GyrA protein (Ser83Leu + Asp87Asn) and one change in ParC protein (Ser80Ile) were identified in all 10 ciprofloxacin-resistant isolates of our series. The intestinal tract of wild animals is a reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes, especially for ampicillin, tetracycline, streptomycin, and SXT, and it is also remarkable that multiresistant E. coli isolates are detected in some of the tested animals.

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