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Class 1 integrons, selected virulence genes, and antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli isolates from the Minjiang River, Fujian Province, China

Chen, B., Zheng, W., Yu, Y., Huang, W., Zheng, S., Zhang, Y., Guan, X., Zhuang, Y., Chen, N., Topp, E. (2011). Class 1 integrons, selected virulence genes, and antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli isolates from the Minjiang River, Fujian Province, China, 77(1), 148-155. http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01676-10

Abstract

Widespread fecal pollution of surface waters in developing countries is a threat to public health and may represent a significant pathway for the global dissemination of antibiotic resistance. The Minjiang River drainage basin in Fujian Province is one of China's most intensive livestock and poultry production areas and is home to several million people. In the study reported here, Escherichia coli isolates (n = 2,788) were sampled (2007 and 2008) from seven surface water locations in the basin and evaluated by PCR for carriage of selected genes encoding virulence factors, primarily for swine disease. A subset of isolates (n = 500) were evaluated by PCR for the distribution and characteristics of class 1 integrons, and a subset of these (n = 200) were evaluated phenotypically for resistance to a range of antibiotics. A total of 666 (24%) E. coli isolates carried at least one of the virulence genes elt, fedA, astA, fasA, estA, stx2e, paa, and sepA. Forty-one percent of the isolates harbored class 1 integrons, and these isolates had a significantly higher probability of resistance to tobramycin, cefoperazone, cefazolin, ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin, azitromycin, and rifampin than isolates with no class 1 integron detected. Frequencies of resistance to selected antibiotics were as high as or higher than those in fecal, wastewater, and clinical isolates in published surveys undertaken in China, North America, and Europe. Overall, E. coli in the Minjiang River drainage basin carry attributes with public health significance at very high frequency, and these data provide a powerful rationale for investment in source water protection strategies in this important agricultural and urban setting in China. Copyright © 2011, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

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