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Role of wild birds as carriers of multi-drug resistant Escherichia coli and Escherichia vulneris

Emergence and distribution of multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria in environments pose a risk to human and animal health. A total of 82 isolates of Escherichia spp. were recovered from cloacal swabs of migrating and non-migrating wild birds. All bacterial isolates were identified and characterized morphologically and biochemically. 72% and 50% of isolates recovered from non-migrating and migrating birds, respectively, showed positive congo red dye binding (a virulence factor). Also, hemolysin production (a virulence factor) was showed in 8% of isolates recovered from non-migrating birds and 75% of isolates recovered from migrating birds. All isolates recovered from non-migrating birds were found resistant to Oxacillin while all isolates recovered from migrating birds demonstrated resistance to Oxacillin, Chloramphenicol, Oxytetracycline and Lincomycin. Some bacterial isolates recovered from non-migrating birds and migrating birds exhibited MDR phenotype. The MDR isolates were further characterized by API 20E and 16S rRNA as E. coli and E. vulneris. MDR Escherichia isolates contain ~1-5 plasmids of high-molecular weights. Accordingly, wild birds could create a potential threat to human and animal health by transmitting MDR bacteria to water streams and other environmental sources through their faecal residues, and to remote regions by migration.

E. coli; E. vulneris; multi-drug resistance (MDR); migrating and non-migrating birds; congo red binding; hemolysin; API 20E; 16S rRNA; plasmid profile


Sociedade Brasileira de Microbiologia USP - ICB III - Dep. de Microbiologia, Sociedade Brasileira de Microbiologia, Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes, 2415, Cidade Universitária, 05508-900 São Paulo, SP - Brasil, Ramal USP 7979, Tel. / Fax: (55 11) 3813-9647 ou 3037-7095 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil
E-mail: bjm@sbmicrobiologia.org.br