Co-occurrence of antibiotic and disinfectant resistance genes in extensively drug-resistant Escherichia coli isolated from broilers in Ilorin, North Central Nigeria

Al-Mustapha, Ahmad Ibrahim; Alada, Shafi Abdullah; Raufu, Ibrahim Adisa; Lawal, Adedeji Nurudeen; Eskola, Katarina; Brouwer, Michael S.M.; Adetunji, Victoria; Heikinheimo, Annamari


Objectives: The occurrence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria in poultry poses the public health threat of zoonotic transmission to humans. Hence, this study assessed the occurrence of drug-resistant Escherichia coli in broilers in the largest live bird market in Kwara State, Nigeria in December 2020. Methods: Presumptive E. coli isolates were isolated using the European Union Reference Laboratory guideline of 2017 and confirmed via matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/MS). Broth microdilution was performed on confirmed E. coli isolates to determine the minimum inhibitory concentration. Five extensively drug-resistant (XDR) isolates were selected for Illumina whole genome sequencing to predict the resistome, phylotype, sequence type, serotype, and diversity of mobile genetic elements in these isolates. Results: Of the 181 broiler caecal samples, 73 E. coli isolates were obtained, of which 67 (82.0%) and 37 (50.6%) were determined as MDR (resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics) and XDR (resistant to at least five classes of antibiotics), respectively. Whole genome sequencing revealed diverse sequence types, phylogroups, and serotypes (ST165/B1 - O80:H19, ST115/A - Unknown: H7, ST901/B1 - O109:H4, ST4087/F - O117:H42, and ST8324/A - O127:H42). The XDR E. coli isolates encoded resistance to fluoroquinolones, fosfomycin, sulfamethoxazole, ampicillin and cephalosporins, trimethoprim, aminoglycosides, chloramphenicol, tetracycline, and macrolides. Mutations in the gyrA gene conferring resistance to fluoroquinolones were also detected. There was a positive correlation between phenotypic resistance patterns and the antibiotic resistance genes that were detected in the sequenced isolates. The XDR isolates also harbored two disinfectant resistance genes (qacE and sitABCD) that conferred resistance to hydrogen peroxide and quaternary ammonium compounds, respectively. The genome of the XDR isolates harbored several mobile genetic elements and virulence-associated genes, which were conserved in all sequenced XDR isolates. Conclusions: This is the first report of co-carriage of antibiotic resistance genes and disinfectant resistance genes in E. coli isolated from broilers in Ilorin, Nigeria. Our findings suggest that poultry are potential carriers of clonally diverse, pathogenic, MDR/XDR E. coli, which may have detrimental zoonotic potentials on human health.