This study investigated the ecology, epidemiology and plasmid characteristics of extended-spectrum cephalosporin (ESC)-resistant E. coli in healthy pigs over a period of 4 years (2013-2016) following the withdrawal of ESCs. High carriage rates of ESC-resistant E. coli were demonstrated in 2013 (86.6%) and 2014 (83.3%), compared to 2015 (22%) and 2016 (8.5%). ESC resistance identified among E. coli isolates was attributed to the carriage of an IncI1 ST-3 plasmid (pCTXM1-MU2) encoding blaCTXM-1. Genomic characterisation of selected E. coli isolates (n?=?61) identified plasmid movement into multiple commensal E. coli (n?=?22 STs). Major STs included ST10, ST5440, ST453, ST2514 and ST23. A subset of the isolates belong to the atypical enteropathogenic E. coli (aEPEC) pathotype that harboured multiple LEE pathogenic islands. pCTXM1-MU2 was similar (99% nt identity) to IncI1-ST3 plasmids reported from Europe, encoded resistance to aminoglycosides, sulphonamides and trimethoprim, and carried colicin Ib. pCTXM1-MU2 appears to be highly stable and readily transferable. This study demonstrates that ESC resistance may persist for a protracted period following removal of direct selection pressure, resulting in the emergence of ESC-resistance in both commensal E. coli and aEPEC isolates of potential significance to human and animal health.
Journal: The ISME journal