Antimicrobial resistance genes in Escherichia coli strains isolated from Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) undergoing rehabilitation

Antimicrobial resistance genes in Escherichia coli strains isolated from Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) undergoing rehabilitation

Ana Carolina EwbankMuseo del Jade

Ana Carolina Ewbank, Marcos Paulo Vieira Cunha, Maria Flavia Lopes Guerra, Carlos Sacristán, Juliana Yuri Saviolli, Ralph Eric Thijl Vanstreels, Luis Felipe Mayorga, Terezinha Knöbl, Vania Maria de Carvalho, José Luiz Catão-Dias

Antimicrobial resistance is a primary global One Health issue of Public Health concern. Seabirds are sentinels of the marine ecosystem health, capable of reflecting natural and anthropogenic changes to the environment. We employed PCR to evaluate the presence of selected antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) used in human medicine, animal production and of Public Health concern (tet, qnrA, qnrB, qnrC, qnrD, qnrS, aac(6’)-Ib-cr, qepA, oqxAB, blaCTX-M, blaTEM-1, blaCMY, blaSHV) in 13 Escherichia coli colonies isolated from oral and cloacal swabs of 15 Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) undergoing rehabilitation. These birds had not received antimicrobial treatment since their admission, 7 days prior to sampling. An antimicrobial sensitivity test (disk diffusion) showed that 69% of the E. coli strains were resistant to antimicrobials: aminoglycosides (53%), beta-lactams (38%), sulfonamides (30%), chloramphenicol (23%) tetracyclines (23%), quinolones (23%), polimixins (0%), and nitrofurans (0%). Multi-resistance was recorded in 30% of the strains. One or more ARGs were detected in 78% of the colonies: tet(D) (23%), blaTEM-1 (15%), qnrB (15%), tet(B) (8%), and tet(A) (15%). The blaTEM-1 gene is associated with with nosocomial infections and the production of extended-spectrum ?-lactamases, which confers resistance to advanced-generation cephalosporins, while qnrB has been linked to quinolone resistance. The study design did not allow to determine whether these resistant E. coli strains and the identified ARGs were present in the penguins prior to admission or were acquired at the rehabilitation center. Wildlife rehabilitation centers provide a great opportunity to study ARGs in the environment-human-wildlife interface. Measures to minimize the spread of ARGs in rehabilitation centers include prescription of antimicrobial therapy only when necessary, isolation of animals undergoing antimicrobial therapy, disinfection of objects of common use and enclosures, and employment of quarantine protocols.

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