April 21, 2020  |  

Transmission of ESBL-producing Escherichia coli between broilers and humans on broiler farms.

ESBL and AmpC ß-lactamases are an increasing concern for public health. Studies suggest that ESBL/pAmpC-producing Escherichia coli and their plasmids carrying antibiotic resistance genes can spread from broilers to humans working or living on broiler farms. These studies used traditional typing methods, which may not have provided sufficient resolution to reliably assess the relatedness of these isolates.Eleven suspected transmission events among broilers and humans living/working on eight broiler farms were investigated using whole-genome short-read (Illumina) and long-read sequencing (PacBio). Core genome MLST (cgMLST) was performed to investigate the occurrence of strain transmission. Horizontal plasmid and gene transfer were analysed using BLAST.Of eight suspected strain transmission events, six were confirmed. The isolate pairs had identical ESBL/AmpC genes and fewer than eight allelic differences according to the cgMLST, and five had an almost identical plasmid composition. On one of the farms, cgMLST revealed that the isolate pairs belonging to ST10 from a broiler and a household member of the farmer had 475 different alleles, but that the plasmids were identical, indicating horizontal transfer of mobile elements rather than strain transfer. Of three suspected horizontal plasmid transmission events, one was confirmed. In addition, gene transfer between plasmids was found.The present study confirms transmission of strains as well as horizontal plasmid and gene transfer between broilers and farmers and household members on the same farm. WGS is an important tool to confirm suspected zoonotic strain and resistance gene transmission. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.


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