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Molecular characterization and antimicrobial susceptibility testing of clinical and non-clinical Brucella melitensis and Brucella abortus isolates from Egypt

Brucellosis is a highly contagious and incapacitating disease of humans, livestock and wildlife species globally. Treatment of brucellosis in animals is not recommended, and in humans, combinations of antibiotics recommended by the World Health Organization are used. However, sporadic antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) isolates and relapse cases have been reported from different endemic regions. In the current study, molecular characterization and antibiotic susceptibility testing using the microdilution method for 35 B. abortus and B. melitensis strains isolated from humans, milk and animal were carried out. Additionally, Next-Generation-Sequence (NGS) technology was applied to confirm Brucella at the species level and investigate AMR and pathogenicity-associated determinants. MALDI-TOF seemed to be a rapid and reliable tool for routine identification of brucellae to the genus level; however, DNA-based identification is indispensable for accurate species identification. Brucella abortus strains were isolated from two human cases and a sheep. Such infections are uncommon in Egypt. Egyptian Brucella strains are still in-vitro susceptible to doxycycline, tetracyclines, gentamicin, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole and tigecycline. Probable (no CLSI/EUCAST breakpoints have been defined yet) in-vitro resistance to rifampicin and azithromycin was observed. WGS failed to determine classical AMR genes, and no difference in the distribution of virulence-associated genes in all isolates was found. Isolates of human and non-human origins were still susceptible to the majority of antibiotics used for treatment in humans. The absence of classical AMR genes in genomes of “resistant” Brucella strains may reflect a lack of information in databases, or resistance might not be encoded by single resistance genes. The One Health approach is necessary for tackling brucellosis. Continuous susceptibility testing, updating of breakpoints, assessing mutations that lead to resistance are needed.



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