Virulence and antimicrobial resistance profiles among Escherichia coli strains isolated from human and animal wastewater

Montserrat Sabaté, Guillem Prats, Eva Moreno, Elisenda Ballesté, Anicet R. Blanch, Antonia Andreu

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To gain insight into whether Escherichia coli isolated from humans and resistant to some common antimicrobial agents are derived from animals, 85 E. coli strains were selected by ERIC-PCR from human and animal wastewater samples. Phylogroup, pathogenicity islands (PAIs), resistance to quinolones, fluoroquinolones and presence of extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs) were analyzed. Among the total, 55% were resistant to nalidixic acid and 38% to ciprofloxacin; 12% produced ESBLs. Chicken-derived strains were associated with quinolone and fluoroquinolone resistance and presence of ESBLs, while human strains were associated with susceptibility. Group B2 E. coli strains were associated with human origin, susceptibility to fluoroquinolones and presence of PAIs, whereas groups A, B1 and D showed a low virulence profile and a high level of antimicrobial resistance. In both human and animal wastewater, E. coli A, B1 and D were prevalent, and strains from both origins showed a similar virulence profile in each phylogroup. These findings led us to hypothesize that abusive antibiotic use in food animal production may promote the development of resistance among these intestinal E. coli phylogroups, which could later be transmitted to humans through the food supply. The low prevalence of E. coli group B2 in the animal gut may explain, at least in part, the absence of emergence of resistant B2 isolates. © 2008 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-293
JournalResearch in Microbiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2008


  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Escherichia coli
  • Pathogenicity islands
  • Phylogenetic group


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