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Revista Ambiente & Água

On-line version ISSN 1980-993X

Rev. Ambient. Água vol.7 no.2 Taubaté Apr./June 2012 



Antimicrobial resistance profiles of diarrheagenic Escherichia coli strains isolated from bathing waters of the Lajeado reservoir in Tocantins, Brazil


Perfis de resistência antimicrobiana de cepas de Escherichia coli diarreiogênicas isoladas de praias do Reservatório de Lajeado, em Tocantins, Brasil



Kleverson Wessel de OliveiraI; Fátima de Cássia Oliveira GomesII; Guilherme BenkoII; Raphael Sanzio PimentaI; Paula Prazeres MagalhãesIII; Edilberto Nogueira MendesIII; Paula Benevides de MoraisI

ILaboratório de Microbiologia Ambiental e Biotecnologia, Universidade Federal do Tocantins, Palmas - TO; emails:,,
IICentro Federal de Educação Tecnológica de Minas Gerais CEFET-MG; emails:,
IIIUniversidade Federal de Minas Gerais-UFMG; emails:,




The exposure to contaminated water constitutes an important mechanism for the transmission of gastrointestinal pathogens. Diarrheagenic Escherichia coli strains cause enteric infections in humans and include six different categories according to virulence factors. This paper aims at detecting the presence of diarrheagenic E. coli strains in bathing waters of seven beaches of Lajeado Reservoir, in the Tocantins River in Brazil, and to test the resistance to antimicrobial drugs to correlate with possible contamination of the water with human feces. Total coliform and E. coli counts were done by the ColilertTM chromogenic substrate technique. Biochemical identification was accomplished by API20E and detection of virulence factors by PCR, employing specific primers for Shiga, LT, and ST and intimin genes. The susceptibility to 16 antibiotics was tested by disk-diffusion technique. Among one hundred and forty-nine strains of E. coli, two strains of EPEC and two of ETEC were detected in waters of beaches situated in urban areas, close to sewage discharge. These strains presented resistance to three to six antibiotics. Human origin is suggested based on the multiresistant profile of these strains.

Keywords: Diarrheagenic Escherichia coli, antimicrobial resistance, virulence factors, PCR and river beach waters.


A exposição humana à água contaminada constitui um importante mecanismo para a transmissão de patógenos gastrointestinais. Cepas de Escherichia coli diarreiogênicas podem causar infecções entéricas em humanos e incluem seis categorias diferentes de acordo com fatores de virulência. Este trabalho tem por objetivos detectar a presença de cepas diarreiogênicas de E. coli nas águas de sete praias do reservatório de Lajeado, Tocantins, Brasil e testar a resistência a drogas antimicrobianas para correlacionar com a possível contaminação da água por fezes humanas. As contagens de coliformes totais e E. coli foram realizadas pela técnica do substrato cromogênico ColilertTM. A identificação bioquímica foi realizada utilizando kit API20E e a detecção dos fatores de virulência por PCR, empregando primers específicos para Shiga, LT e ST e genes de intimina. A susceptibilidade a 16 antibióticos foi testada pela técnica de difusão em discos de papel impregnados com antibiótico. Entre as 149 cepas de E. coli testadas, duas cepas de EPEC e duas de ETEC foram detectadas em águas de praias situadas em áreas urbanas, perto de descarga de efluentes. Estas cepas apresentaram resistência de 3 a 6 antibióticos. A provável origem humana das cepas é sugerida devido ao perfil de multiresistentes apresentado.

Palavras-chave: Escherichia coli diarreiogênicas, resistência a antimicrobianos, fatores de virulência, PCR e praias fluviais.



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ETEC strains were kindly given by Dr. Tânia Aparecida Tardelli Gomes do Amaral, UNIFESP, Brazil. This research was sponsored by CT-Hidro/ CNPq Processo 5526902005-8.



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