Commonality among fluoroquinolone-resistant sequence type ST131 extraintestinal Escherichia coli isolates from humans and companion animals in Australia

Joanne L Platell, Rowland N Cobbold, James R Johnson, Anke Heisig, Peter Heisig, Connie Clabots, Michael A Kuskowski, Darren J Trott
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 2011, 55 (8): 3782-7
Escherichia coli sequence type 131 (ST131), an emergent multidrug-resistant extraintestinal pathogen, has spread epidemically among humans and was recently isolated from companion animals. To assess for human-companion animal commonality among ST131 isolates, 214 fluoroquinolone-resistant extraintestinal E. coli isolates (205 from humans, 9 from companion animals) from diagnostic laboratories in Australia, provisionally identified as ST131 by PCR, selectively underwent PCR-based O typing and bla(CTX-M-15) detection. A subset then underwent multilocus sequence typing (MLST), pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis, extended virulence genotyping, antimicrobial susceptibility testing, and fluoroquinolone resistance genotyping. All isolates were O25b positive, except for two O16 isolates and one O157 isolate, which (along with six O25b-positive isolates) were confirmed by MLST to be ST131. Only 12% of isolates (25 human, 1 canine) exhibited bla(CTX-M-15). PFGE analysis of 20 randomly selected human and all 9 companion animal isolates showed multiple instances of ≥94% profile similarity across host species; 12 isolates (6 human, 6 companion animal) represented pulsotype 968, the most prevalent ST131 pulsotype in North America (representing 23% of a large ST131 reference collection). Virulence gene and antimicrobial resistance profiles differed minimally, without host species specificity. The analyzed ST131 isolates also exhibited a conserved, host species-independent pattern of chromosomal fluoroquinolone resistance mutations. However, eight (89%) companion animal isolates, versus two (10%) human isolates, possessed the plasmid-borne qnrB gene (P < 0.001). This extensive across-species strain commonality, plus the similarities between Australian and non-Australian ST131 isolates, suggest that ST131 isolates are exchanged between humans and companion animals both within Australia and intercontinentally.

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