Integron Digestive Carriage in Human and Cattle: A “One Health” Cultivation-Independent Approach
The presence and transfer of antimicrobial resistance genes from commensal bacteria in companion animals to more pathogenic bacteria may contribute to dissemination of antimicrobial resistance. The purpose of this study was to determine antimicrobial resistance gene content and the presence of genetic elements in antimicrobial resistant Escherichia coli from healthy companion animals. In our previous study, from May to August, 2007, healthy companion animals (155 dogs and 121 cats) from three veterinary clinics in the Athens, GA, USA area were sampled and multidrug-resistant E. coli (n = 36; MDR, resistance to ≥ 2 antimicrobial classes) were obtained. Of the 25 different plasmid replicon types tested by PCR, at least one plasmid replicon type was detected in 94% (34/36) of the MDR E. coli; four isolates contained as many as five different plasmid replicons. Nine replicon types (FIA, FIB, FII, I2, A/C, U, P, I1 and HI2) were identified with FIB, FII, I2 as the most common pattern. The presence of class I integrons (intI) was detected in 61% (22/36) of the isolates with eight isolates containing aminoglycoside- and/or trimethoprim-resistance genes in the variable cassette region of intI. Microarray analysis of a subset of the MDR E. coli (n = 9) identified the presence of genes conferring resistance to aminoglycosides (aac, aad, aph and strA/B), β-lactams (ampC, cmy, tem and vim), chloramphenicol (cat), sulfonamides (sulI and sulII), tetracycline [tet(A), tet(B), tet(C), tet(D) and regulator, tetR] and trimethoprim (dfrA). Antimicrobial resistance to eight antimicrobials (ampicillin, cefoxitin, ceftiofur, amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, streptomycin, gentamicin, sulfisoxazole and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole) and five plasmid replicons (FIA, FIB, FII, I1 and I2) were transferred via conjugation. The presence of antimicrobial resistance genes, intI and transferable plasmid replicons indicate that E. coli from companion animals may play an important role in the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance, particularly to human hosts during contact.