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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2008 Jan;278(2):193-9. Epub 2007 Dec 5.

A high prevalence of antimicrobial resistant Escherichia coli isolated from pigs and a low prevalence of antimicrobial resistant E. coli from cattle and sheep in Great Britain at slaughter.

Abstract

The incidence of antimicrobial resistance and expressed and unexpressed resistance genes among commensal Escherichia coli isolated from healthy farm animals at slaughter in Great Britain was investigated. The prevalence of antimicrobial resistance among the isolates varied according to the animal species; of 836 isolates from cattle tested only 5.7% were resistant to one or more antimicrobials, while only 3.0% of 836 isolates from sheep were resistant to one or more agents. However, 92.1% of 2480 isolates from pigs were resistant to at least one antimicrobial. Among isolates from pigs, resistance to some antimicrobials such as tetracycline (78.7%), sulphonamide (66.9%) and streptomycin (37.5%) was found to be common, but relatively rare to other agents such as amikacin (0.1%), ceftazidime (0.1%) and coamoxiclav (0.2%). The isolates had a diverse range of resistance gene profiles, with tet(B), sul2 and strAB identified most frequently. Seven out of 615 isolates investigated carried unexpressed resistance genes. One trimethoprim-susceptible isolate carried a complete dfrA17 gene but lacked a promoter for it. However, in the remaining six streptomycin-susceptible isolates, one of which carried strAB while the others carried aadA, no mutations or deletions in gene or promoter sequences were identified to account for susceptibility. The data indicate that antimicrobial resistance in E. coli of animal origin is due to a broad range of acquired genes.

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