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Vet Microbiol. 2010 Jul 29;144(1-2):219-25. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2009.12.016. Epub 2009 Dec 16.

Antimicrobial resistance profiles of Escherichia coli from common European wild bird species.

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Institut für Mikrobiologie und Tierseuchen, Fachbereich für Veterinärmedizin, Freie Universität Berlin, Philippstrasse 13, 10115 Berlin, Germany.


The emergence and spread of multiresistant bacteria in natural environments constitute a serious impact on animal and human health. To gain more insight into the role of wild birds as carriers and reservoir of multiresistant Escherichia coli we tested a broad spectrum of common European bird species for the occurrence of E. coli strains and their antimicrobial resistance by minimal inhibitory concentration testing and PCR analysis of several resistance genes. Nine of the 187 E. coli isolates (4.8%) exhibited multiresistant phenotypes including resistances against beta-lactams, aminoglycosides, fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines and sulfonamides. By comparing avian E. coli resistance frequencies with frequencies known for E. coli isolated from livestock and companion animals analogous profiles were identified. Multiresistant E. coli strains were isolated from synanthropic avian species as well as from birds of prey, waterfowl and passerines. By that, all these avian hosts are suggested to represent a considerable reservoir of resistant E. coli strains. Consequently wild birds might constitute a potential hazard to human and animal health by transmitting multiresistant strains to waterways and other environmental sources via their faecal deposits.

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