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Comparative Genomic Analysis of Antimicrobial-Resistant Escherichia coli from South American Camelids in Central Germany

South American camelids (SAC) are increasingly kept in Europe in close contact with humans and other livestock species and can potentially contribute to transmission chains of epizootic, zoonotic and antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) agents from and to livestock and humans. Consequently, SAC were included as livestock species in the new European Animal Health Law. However, the knowledge on bacteria exhibiting AMR in SAC is too scarce to draft appropriate monitoring and preventive programs. During a survey of SAC holdings in central Germany, 39 Escherichia coli strains were isolated from composite fecal samples by selecting for cephalosporin or fluoroquinolone resistance and were here subjected to whole-genome sequencing. The data were bioinformatically analyzed for strain phylogeny, detection of pathovars, AMR genes and plasmids. Most (33/39) strains belonged to phylogroups A and B1. Still, the isolates were highly diverse, as evidenced by 28 multi-locus sequence types. More than half of the isolates (23/39) were genotypically classified as multidrug resistant. Genes mediating resistance to trimethoprim/sulfonamides (22/39), aminoglycosides (20/39) and tetracyclines (18/39) were frequent. The most common extended-spectrum-β-lactamase gene was blaCTX-M-1 (16/39). One strain was classified as enteropathogenic E. coli. The positive results indicate the need to include AMR bacteria in yet-to-be-established animal disease surveillance protocols for SAC.

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