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Survey for and characterisation of antibiotic resistance in Enterobacteriacceae from beef cattle in England, Wales and Scotland, with particular empahasis on Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase (ESBL) and carbapenamase resistance - VM0526

Antibiotic resistance in bacteria present in food producing animals continues to be a matter of public and scientific concern. In particular, control of bacterial resistance to third and fourth generation cephalosporin antibiotics (conferred by bacterial enzymes know as Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamases - ESBLs) and resistance to carbapenem antibiotics is a major priority. These two antibiotic classes are critical for treating life threatening diseases in humans.

In recent years APHA have performed studies / surveys in the UK of ESBL-producing E. coli in cattle, chickens, environmental samples, pigs, turkeys, waste milk and also in chicken meat, pork and beef. The presence of carbapenem-resistant E. coli was also determined in the meat samples. These studies have been part of work for Defra, VMD, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and were conducted in collaboration with Public Health England (PHE). ESBL-producing bacteria were isolated from all of the above samples types. For example, 23.4% of 637 pig caecal contents samples were found to be positive for ESBL-producing E. coli, whilst in some dairy farms, up to 100% of some animal groups, particularly calves, were positive for ESBL-producing E. coli.

The above studies have also involved detailed characterization of representative isolates using a variety of molecular and other techniques. Such characterization enables comparisons to be made between isolates from different animal species, different countries, and between isolates from animals and humans, and thus may provide information on possible transmission routes of infection. More detailed characterization using whole genome sequencing can provide precise matching between isolates from different sources.

In humans, the dominant E. coli strain causing human disease is a CTX-M 15-producing O25-ST131 clone which is associated with significant mortality. Whilst detailed characterization of isolates in animals and meat in studies in the UK to date, suggest that ESBL-producing E. coli from farm animals are not the same as the dominant isolates causing disease in humans, there is the potential for isolates in animals to cause disease in humans, or pass on resistance genes to disease-causing bacteria in the gut of humans. Whilst carbapenem-resistant E. coli are much less common than ESBL-producing bacteria, carbapenem resistant E. coli and Salmonella have been isolated from pigs and chickens in Germany.

As part of VMD funded project VM0513, one of the data gaps highlighted was the occurrence of ESBL-producing E. coli in beef cattle. This food animal sector is not currently covered by the proposed EU AMR surveillance of cattle, which will focus on veal calves. One of the aims of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) is to protect public health and the environment. This project will build on previous projects to inform government as to the prevalence and characteristics of antibiotic resistant Enterobacteriaceae (to include E. coli) in beef cattle, and as such will help to assess any potential risk, so strategies to minimize such bacteria in animals can be implemented to protect public health.
Objective 1: Isolation and preliminary characterisation of ESBL-producing and carbapenem resistant Enterobacteriaceae.
Objective 2: Epidemiological analysis.
Objective 3: In depth characterisation of selected isolates.
Objective 4: Final analysis and reporting of results.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2015

To: 2017

Cost: £100,937
Contractor / Funded Organisations
APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency)
Antimicrobial Resistance