Prevalence and antibiogram of some swine associated shiga toxin producing escherichia coli serogroups and salmonella species in Nkonkobe Municipality, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

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University of Fort Hare


Gastrointestinal illnesses have continually become a global public health issue. Exposure to zoonotic food borne pathogens such as Salmonella and diarrhoegenic E. coli either by direct or indirect contact through the consumption of food producing animals is likely an important mode of infection to humans. More so, the use of antibiotics in farm animals similar to those used in humans can select for resistance in bacteria frequently harboured by them. These resistant strains can be passed on to humans through contaminated meat products and water leading to resistant infections with consequences such as prolonged illnesses, treatment failures, and increased morbidity and mortality. In animals, these can lead to reduced productivity. Monitoring the level of resistance among bacteria from animal isolates will help in generating data that could be used to create awareness of their presence in the environment and aid in preventing a potential epidemic in the community. In this study, we investigated the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance profile of Escherichia coli serogroups and Salmonella species in faecal samples collected from pigs in Nkonkobe Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa between April – July, 2014. A total of 310 presumptive Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) were confirmed as E. coli spp using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique by amplification of the uidA gene, out of which 179 (58%) were confirmed positive. Approximately, serogrougs O157:H7, O145 and O26 made up 24% (n=43), 8% (n=14) and 20% (n=35) of the E. coli population respectively. Only E. coli O26 was positive for stx2 gene in 31% of the isolates harbouring the gene, while the other serogroups were non-pathogenic. Susceptibility of the isolates to 18 antibiotics was carried out in vitro by the standardized agar disc-diffusion method. All the isolates were susceptible to imipenem. Similarly, a relatively high susceptibility was observed in norfloxacin (83-100%), ciprofloxacin (63-100%), gentamycin (77-100%), and chloramphenicol (77-100%). However, all the isolates were resistant to tetracycline and its long acting counterpart oxytetracycline. Resistances observed against other antimicrobials are as follows: ampicillin (84-91%), streptomycin (14-100%), erythromycin (91-100%), ceftazidime (35%). Multiple antimicrobial resistance patterns and indices ranged from 3 to 12 and 0.2 to 0.7 to respectively. Genes encoding resistances to ampicillin (ampC), streptomycin (strA) and tetracycline (tetA) were frequently detected in 50-100%, 22-29% and 40-86% of the resistant isolates respectively. In the other arm of the dissertation, two hundred and fifty eight presumptive isolates of Salmonella were recovered from the faecal samples of pigs. Specific primers targeting serogroups A, B, C1, C2, and D were used to delineate the isolates into different serogroups using PCR. Only serogroup A (n=48) was detected. These isolates were examined for antimicrobial susceptibility by disc diffusion method using 18 antibiotics. The results showed that a large proportion of the isolates were resistant to tetracycline (100%), oxytetracycline (100%), ampicillin (75%), sulphamethoxazole/trimethoprim (75%) and streptomycin (75%). Majority of the isolates exhibited multidrug resistances with the predominant multiple antibiotic resistance (MAR) phenotype being against eleven antibiotics. A high multiple antibiotic resistance (MAR) index in a range of 0.3- 0.6 was observed. The incidence of genes encoding resistance against tetracycline (tetA), streptomycin (stra), and ampicillin (ampC) were 54%, 44% and 61% respectively. These findings reveal that pigs within the Nkonkobe Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province could harbour Shiga toxins and multidrug resistant serogroups of E. coli as well as resistant Salmonella which could be transmitted to humans through the food chain. To ensure public health safety, continuous monitoring and sufficient sanitation in swine industries must be ensured.



Escherichia coli -- South Africa -- Eastern Cape, Escherichia coli -- South Africa -- Eastern Cape, Water quality management -- South Africa -- Eastern Cape, Escherichia coli infections -- South Africa -- Eastern Cape, Swine -- South Africa -- Eastern Cape