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Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo

versão On-line ISSN 1678-9946

Rev. Inst. Med. trop. S. Paulo vol.61  São Paulo  2019  Epub 01-Jul-2019 


First report of Raoultella ornithinolytica carrying blaKPC-2 isolated from a dipteran muscoid collected in a garbage from a public hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Isabel Nogueira Carramaschi1

Eduardo Almeida Ribeiro de Castro2 

Jéssica Albuquerque Leite1 

Margareth Maria de Carvalho Queiroz1 

Maria Helena Simões Villas Boas3 

Karyne Rangel3 

Viviane Zahner1

1Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Laboratório de Entomologia Médica e Forense, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2Hospital Municipal da Piedade, Comissão de Controle de Infecção Hospitalar, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

3Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Instituto Nacional de Controle de Qualidade em Saúde, Laboratório de Saneantes, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, January 23rd, 2019

Dear Editor

Raoultella is a Gram-negative bacterium frequently isolated from natural environments and has emerged as an important pathogen in recent years1. Although this species has been described as susceptible to antibiotics, there are numerous reports of strains presenting a variety of resistance mechanisms, such as ESBL (Extended -spectrum beta- lactamases) and carbapenemases, including blaOXA-48 from bloodstream infections isolates2, the coexistence of blaKPC-2 and blaIMP-43, reported in strains recovered from sediment together with some producers of VIM-14. Importantly, blaNDM positive strains were isolated from clinical specimens5 highlighting the dissemination of resistance genes from clinical to environmental members of the Enterobacteriaceae family. Flies show the capacity to transfer pathogens and their associated genes between different environments, acting as one of the most important vectors of human diseases worldwide6.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the possible role of flies in the dissemination of nosocomial, antibiotic resistant bacteria. Flies were captured within the garbage of a public hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and were screened for the presence of mobile resistance determinants against colistin, carbapenems, cephalosporins, aminoglycosides and mobile genetic elements, including integrons and the transposon Tn4401. Samples of flies were collected in July 2016 and August 2017. Captures were carried out inside the dumpsters located in the dependencies of the public hospital in Rio de Janeiro, and from other dumpsters at a distance of approximately 100 meters from the hospital. Traps made of plastic bottles were placed at each location and left for 20 h. Trapped flies were taken to the laboratory and identified using dichotomous keys7.

The flies were individually washed in sterile saline and homogenized with a sterile pestle in 1 mL of saline and vortexed. Aliquots of the diluted homogenates (100 μL) were streaked onto nutrient agar plates supplemented with ceftriaxone (1 mg/L) and incubated at 37 °C overnight. Representative colony types were subcultured on plates of nutrient agar and examined for resistance via the disk-diffusion method8 towards the antibiotics cefepime (30 μg), cefoxitin (30 μg), ceftazidime (30 μg), meropenem (10 µg), gentamicin (10µg), tetracycline (10 µg), ciprofloxacin (5 μg), trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (1.25 + 23.75 µg) and chloramphenicol (30 µg) (Sensifar). Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) assays to detect resistance to β-lactams and aminoglycosides were conducted according to the protocol described by Poirel et al.9. Plasmid characterization was performed using the PCR-based replicon typing method10, with plasmids extracted using an alkaline lysis method11. Subsequently, gel contents were transferred to nylon membranes, and hybridized with digoxigenin 11-dUTP (Roche) probes12.

Raoultella ornithinolytica (LEMEF 71) was isolated from a specimen of the Malacophagomia filamenta fly. This bacterium was identified by the sequencing of approximately 240 nucleotides belonging to the V5 region of the gene 16S rRNA gene13 in combination with MALDITOF MS (Bruker LT Microflex). The isolate LEMEF 71 was phenotypically resistant to tetracycline, cefepime, ceftazidime, gentamincin and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole and was positive by the Carbapenem Inactivation Method (CIM test), presenting a clear carbapenemase activity14. PCR-based screening revealed the presence of the blaKPC, blaTEM, aac(6’)-Ib resistance genes and identified the presence of a plasmid belonging to the IncK incompatibility group. The identity of the KPC-2 amplicon was confirmed by its nucleotide sequencing. In addition, the isolate was positive for ISKpn6, which belongs to the IS1182 family, and also for ISKpn7, a member of the IS21 family, generating aTnpA target amplicon. Those sequences are components of the transposon Tn4401, which is implicated as the origin of blaKPC-like gene acquisition and is believed to be responsible for its dissemination15.

Southern hybridization assays revealed weak signals with bands considered to represent plasmid DNA, suggesting that the blaKPC gene was present, but the number of copies of the plasmide was low (Figure 1). Attempts to transfer the plasmid by in vitro conjugation were unsuccessful, suggesting that the plasmid is most likely of non-conjugative type. Previous studies of clinical isolates of Raoultella spp. showed that blaKPC was carried on by an 11-kb plasmid located within a Tn4401 integration structure16. In addition, a wastewater strain has been documented and contained a novel IncP-6 promiscuous plasmid containing a Tn3 transposon composed of ISKpn6/blaKPC-2/blaTEM-1/ISKpn2717. More recently, the emergence of mcr-1, encoding resistance to colistin, within an IncI2 plasmid of R. planticola isolated from flies, has been reported in China18.

Figure 1 A) Plasmid extractions from cultures of Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates and Raoultella ornithinilytica isolate that produce β-lactamase blaKPC-2 gene; B) Southern hybridization of a transferred plasmid extraction, conducted with an internal probe for blaKPC-2. Lane 1, DNA molecular-weight marker III digoxigenin- labeled; Lane 2, Klebsiella pneumoniae (positive control); Lane 3 Raoultella ornithinilytica (LEMEF 71). 

Due to their reproductive and trophic link to microbe-rich substrates, flies have long been implicated as reservoirs and potential vectors of resistant bacteria19. It is not possible to definitively determine whether the isolate LEMEF 7 was originated from within the hospital or if it was resident in the extended environment. However, it should be noted that previous studies have demonstrated that samples collected from a range of hospital environments contained carbapenemase-producing organisms, including non-pathogenic ones that may serve as resilient reservoirs of resistance genes and plasmids20.

In conclusion, the findings presented in this study, to the best of our knowledge, represent the first detection of KPC-2 producing R. ornithinolytica isolated from flies. This study reinforces the hypothesis that this resistance mechanism is rapidly disseminating in environmental isolates of Enterobacteriaceae. Moreover, insects are numerous and diverse in many environments, therefore our finding suggests their potential role in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance. Our study is of great concern due to its epidemic potential, since the emergence of KPC represents a severe threat to human health around the globe.


We acknowledged Dr. Douglas McIntosh for the 16s rRNA gene sequencing.


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This study was supported in part by grants from Centro Integrado Empresa Escola, Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES – Finance Code 001) and by POM (Plano de Objetivos e Metas/ Fiocruz).

Recebido: 25 de Janeiro de 2019; Aceito: 18 de Março de 2019

Correspondence to: Viviane Zahner Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Laboratório de Entomologia Médica e Forense, Av. Brasil, 4365, Manguinhos, CEP 21040-900, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil Tel: +55 21 2562-1846


INC: flies collection, bacterial isolation, molecular methods, data interpretation, article writing. EARC, MMCQ, MHSVB, KRC: design, data interpretation. JAL: phenotypic methods. VZ: design, data interpretation, article writing, approval of the review to be published and laboratory supervision.

Creative Commons License  This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.