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Longitudinal Study on Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lactamase-E. coli in Sentinel Mallard Ducks in an Important Baltic Stop-Over Site for Migratory Ducks in Germany

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious global health threat with extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacterales as the most critical ones. Studies on AMR in wild birds imply a possible dissemination function and indicate their potential role as sentinel animals. This study aimed to gain a deeper insight into the AMR burden of wild waterfowl by sampling semi-wild mallard ducks used as sentinels and to identify if AMR bacteria could be recommended to be added to the pathogens of public health risks to be screened for. In total, 376 cloacal and pooled fecal samples were collected from the sentinel plant over a period of two years. Samples were screened for ESBL-carrying E. coli and isolates found further analyzed using antimicrobial susceptibility testing and whole-genome sequencing. Over the sampling period, 4.26% (16/376) of the samples were positive for ESBL-producing E. coli. BlaCTX-M-1 and blaCTX-M-32 were the most abundant CTX-M types. Although none of the top global sequence types (ST) could be detected, poultry-derived ST115 and non-poultry-related STs were found and could be followed over time. The current study revealed low cases of ESBL-producing E. coli in semi-wild mallard ducks, which proves the suitability of sentinel surveillance for AMR detection in water-associated wildlife. 



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