Genotypic and phenotypic characterization of enterococci from cow dung and environmental water sources in three selected dairy farms in Amathole District.

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University of Fort Hare


Enterococcus species are integral members of the gastrointestinal microfloral of humans, animals, birds, as well as insects. Their presence in water and food has been greatly associated with faecal contamination. This study was aimed at evaluating the incidence of Enterococcus species in cow dung and environmental water sources in three commercial dairy farms. In addition, their antibiotic profiles were determined as well as resistance and virulence genes. Furthermore, the genetic relatedness of the isolates was determined by molecular typing method (RAPD PCR). Three hundred and thirty four water and faecal samples consisting of 117, 116 and 101 were collected from Seven Star Middle Drift and Fort Hare Dairy trusts respectively. Of the 334 samples collected, 289 were of faecal origin and 45 from water sources within the farms. All samples were screened for enterococci using culture base growth media and molecular methods targeting the tuf gene. Speciation was done using species-specific primers and the incidences of various species within the farms determined. Furthermore resistance to antibiotics and multidrug-resistant phenotypes were established using the disk diffusion method. Genes coding for virulence and resistance were also determined. From the samples collected, 313 (289 faecal and 24 water) presumptive enteroccocci were isolated, 305 of 313 (97.45%) were confirmed as Enterococcus of which 239 of 305 (78.38%) were identified as E. hirae, 15 of 305 (4.92 %) as E. faecium, 12/305 (3.93%) as E. durans, 6 of 305 (1.97%) as E. faecalis and 33 of 305 (10.82%) were unidentified. Out of the five virulence genes that were targeted in the study only gelE (71.80% of 219/305) and ace (27.2% 83/305) were present in the isolates. Phenotypic resistance to antibiotics was observed is in all twelve antibiotics tested with multidrug resistance phenotypes detected in some enterococcal isolates most predominant in Seven Star and Middledrift dairy trust. Finally RAPD profiles of the isolates showed high relatedness between the strains from water and cow dung sources in all three commercial dairy farms suggesting possible contamination from cow dung to the water sources or vice versa.