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Keywords:

  • Antimicrobial resistance;
  • Escherichia coli;
  • human;
  • animal;
  • food;
  • pulsed-field gel electrophoresis

Summary

The prevalence of resistant bacteria in food products in Iceland is unknown, and little is known of the prevalence in production animals. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and genetic relatedness of antimicrobial-resistant Escherichia coli from healthy pigs and broiler chicken, pork, broiler meat, slaughterhouse personnel and outpatients in Iceland. A total of 419 E. coli isolates were tested for antimicrobial susceptibility using a microbroth dilution method (VetMIC), and resistant strains were compared using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). All samples were screened for enrofloxacin-resistant strains with selective agar plates. The resistance rates among E. coli isolates were moderate to high from caecal and meat samples of pigs (54.1% and 28%), broilers (33.6% and 52%) and slaughterhouse personnel (39.1%), whereas isolates from outpatients showed moderate resistance rates (23.1%). Of notice was resistance to quinolones (minimum inhibitory concentrations: nalidixic acid ≥ 32, ciprofloxacin ≥ 0.12 and enrofloxacin ≥ 0.5), particularly among broiler and broiler meat isolates (18.2% and 36%), as there is no known antimicrobial selection pressure in the broiler production in Iceland. The majority (78.6%) of the resistant E. coli isolates was genotypically different, based on PFGE fingerprint analyses and clustering was limited. However, the same resistance pattern and pulsotype were found among isolates from broiler meat and a slaughterhouse worker, indicating spread of antimicrobial-resistant E. coli from animals to humans. Diverse resistance patterns and pulsotypes suggest the presence of a large population of resistant E. coli in production animals in Iceland. This study gives baseline information on the prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant E. coli from production animals, and their food products in Iceland and the moderate to high resistance rates emphasize the need for continuing surveillance. Further studies on the origin of the resistant strains and the genetic relatedness of strains of different origin are needed.