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This study compared the antimicrobial resistance profiles of Escherichia coli O157:H7 isolates (n = 257) recovered from bovine hides, minced beef and human clinical samples in Ireland, to those profiles of a range of Irish non-O157 E. coli (O111 and O26) isolates (n=31) from a variety of clinical and veterinary sources. Four multi-drug resistant (MDR) E. coli O157:H7 food isolates were identified, with resistance to 10 (1 isolate), 6 (1 isolate) and 4 (2 isolates) antimicrobial agents respectively. Two of these isolates (resistant to 7 and 4 antimicrobial classes) were characterised further by molecular methods and found to contain class 1 integrons along with a -lactamase-encoding tem-1 gene. Transfer of antimicrobial resistance (ampicillin, streptomycin and sulphonamides), the tem-1 gene and markers (int1, qacE1, sul1) characteristic of class 1 integrons were evident in one MDR isolate (resistant to 4 antimicrobial classes) when conjugation and transformation experiments were performed. A clinical isolate and a veterinary isolate of the O111 serotype were MDR and resistant to 4 and 3 antimicrobial classes respectively. These data suggests that the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance among the three VTEC serotypes examined in this study is low. These organisms may become a public health risk should they enter the food chain.
Walsh, C. et al (2006) Antimicrobial Resistance in Irish isolates of Verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli (E. coli)-VTEC. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 109, 173-178, 2006. doi.org/10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2006.01.023