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Repeated Isolation of Extended-Spectrum-beta-Lactamase-Positive Escherichia coli Sequence Types 648 and 131 from Community Wastewater Indicates that Sewage Systems Are Important Sources of Emerging Clones of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Journal article
Authors E. Paulshus
Kaisa Thorell
J. Guzman-Otazo
E. Joffre
P. Colque
I. Kuhn
R. Mollby
H. Sorum
A. Sjoling
Published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Volume 63
Issue 9
ISSN 0066-4804
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Infectious Medicine
Language en
Keywords ESBL E. coli, Norway, ST131, ST648, antibiotic resistance, antibiotic surveillance, persistence, sewage, antimicrobial resistance, epidemiology, prevalence, plasmids, animals, trends, genes, Microbiology, Pharmacology & Pharmacy
Subject categories Microbiology in the medical area, Epidemiology, Pharmacology


Antibiotic resistance in bacteria is an emerging problem globally. Resistant bacteria are found in human and animal microbiota, as well as in the environment. Wastewater receives bacteria from all these sources and thus can provide a measurement of abundance and diversity of antibiotic-resistant bacteria circulating in communities. In this study, water samples were collected from a wastewater pump station in a Norwegian suburban community over a period of 15 months. A total of 45 daily samples were cultured and analyzed for the presence of Escherichia coli. Eighty E. coli-like colonies were collected from each daily sample and then phenotyped and analyzed for antibiotic resistance using the PhenePlate-AREB system. During the sampling period, two unique E. coli phenotypes with resistance to cefotaxime and cefpodoxime indicating carriage of extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL) were observed repeatedly. Whole-genome sequencing of 15 representative isolates from the two phenotypes identified these as two distinct clones belonging to the two globally spread E. coli multilocus sequence types (STs) ST131 and ST648 and carrying bla(CTX-M-15). The number of ESBL-positive E. coli strains in the community wastewater pump station was 314 of 3,123 (10%) analyzed E. coli strains. Of the ESBL-positive isolates, 37% belonged to ST648, and 7% belonged to ST131. Repeated findings of CTX-M-15-positive ST648 and ST131 over time indicate that these STs are resident in the analyzed wastewater systems and/or circulate abundantly in the community.

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