2022 journal article
Evidence of sheep and abattoir environment as important reservoirs of multidrug resistant Salmonella and extended-spectrum beta-lactamase Escherichia coli
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF FOOD MICROBIOLOGY, 363.
The increase in antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) foodborne pathogens, including E. coli and Salmonella in animals, humans, and the environment, is a growing public health concern. Among animals, cattle, pigs, and chicken are reservoirs of these pathogens worldwide. There is a knowledge gap on the prevalence and AMR of foodborne pathogens in small ruminants (i.e., sheep and goats). This study investigates the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) E. coli and Salmonella from sheep and their abattoir environment in North Carolina. We conducted a year-round serial cross-sectional study and collected a total of 1128 samples from sheep (n = 780) and their abattoir environment (n = 348). Sheep samples consisted of feces, cecal contents, carcass swabs, and abattoir resting area feces. Environmental samples consisted of soil samples, lairage swab, animal feed, and drinking water for animals. We used CHROMAgar EEC with 4 μg/ml of Cefotaxime for isolating ESBL E. coli, and ESBL production was confirmed by double-disk diffusion test. Salmonella was isolated and confirmed using standard methods. All of the confirmed isolates were tested against a panel of 14 antimicrobials to elucidate susceptibility profiles. The prevalence of ESBL E. coli and Salmonella was significantly higher in environmental samples (47.7% and 65.5%) compared to the sheep samples (19.5% and 17.9%), respectively (P < 0.0001). We recovered 318 ESBL E. coli and 368 Salmonella isolates from sheep and environmental samples. More than 97% (310/318) of ESBL E. coli were multidrug-resistant (MDR; resistant to ≥3 classes of antimicrobials). Most Salmonella isolates (77.2%, 284/368) were pansusceptible, and 10.1% (37/368) were MDR. We identified a total of 24 different Salmonella serotypes by whole genome sequencing (WGS). The most common serotypes were Agona (19.8%), Typhimurium (16.2%), Cannstatt (13.2%), Reading (13.2%), and Anatum (9.6%). Prevalence and percent resistance of ESBL E. coli and Salmonella isolates varied significantly by season and sample type (P < 0.0001). The co-existence of ESBL E. coli in the same sample was associated with increased percent resistance of Salmonella to Ampicillin, Chloramphenicol, Sulfisoxazole, Streptomycin, and Tetracycline. We presumed that the abattoir environment might have played a great role in the persistence and dissemination of resistant bacteria to sheep as they arrive at the abattoir. In conclusion, our study reaffirms that sheep and their abattoir environment act as important reservoirs of AMR ESBL E. coli and MDR Salmonella in the U.S. Further studies are required to determine associated public health risks.