Enhanced Diagnostic Tools
Ninety beta-hemolytic Escherichia coli isolates associated with diarrhea in neonatal pigs from multiple farms in Oklahoma were investigated for known associated disease serotypes, virulence factors, ribotypes, and antimicrobial susceptibility phenotypes. Fifteen different serotypes were observed, with 58% of isolates belonging to groups that produce one of three major enterotoxins: O149, O147, and O139. Thirty percent of the swine E. coli isolates possessed a combination of F4 fimbriae and the heat-labile toxin and heat-stable toxin B enterotoxins. Seventy-three percent of the E. coli isolates were resistant to five or more antibiotics. Interestingly, 53% of swine E. coli isolates exhibited resistance to chloramphenicol (CHL), an antibiotic whose use in food animals has been prohibited in the United States since the mid-1980s. The cmlA gene, which encodes a putative CHL efflux pump, was detected by PCR in 47 of the 48 CHL-resistant isolates, and 4 of these also possessed the cat2 gene, which encodes a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase. The one CHL-resistant isolate that did not contain either cmlA or cat-2 possessed the flo gene, which confers resistance to both florfenicol and CHL. To determine whether CHL-resistant swine E. coli isolates represented dissemination of a clonal strain, all 90 isolates were analyzed by ribotyping. Seventeen distinct E. coli ribogroups were identified, with CHL resistance observed among the isolates in all except one of the major ribogroups. The identification of the cmlA gene among diverse hemolytic enterotoxigenic E. coli strains demonstrates its broad dissemination in the swine production environment and its persistence even in the absence of CHL selection pressure.
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