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      Insects in confined swine operations carry a large antibiotic resistant and potentially virulent enterococcal community

      1 , 4 , 2 , 3 , 1 , 2 ,
      BMC Microbiology
      BioMed Central

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          Extensive use of antibiotics as growth promoters in the livestock industry constitutes strong selection pressure for evolution and selection of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains. Unfortunately, the microbial ecology and spread of these bacteria in the agricultural, urban, and suburban environments are poorly understood. Insects such as house flies ( Musca domestica) and German cockroaches ( Blattella germanica) can move freely between animal waste and food and may play a significant role in the dissemination of antibiotic resistant bacteria within and between animal production farms and from farms to residential settings.


          Enterococci from the digestive tract of house flies ( n = 162), and feces of German cockroaches ( n = 83) and pigs ( n = 119), collected from two commercial swine farms were isolated, quantified, identified, and screened for antibiotic resistance and virulence. The majority of samples (93.7%) were positive for enterococci with concentrations 4.2 ± 0.7 × 10 4 CFU/house fly, 5.5 ± 1.1 × 10 6 CFU/g of cockroach feces, and 3.2 ± 0.8 × 10 5 CFU/g of pig feces. Among all the identified isolates (n = 639) Enterococcus faecalis was the most common (55.5%), followed by E. hirae (24.9%), E. faecium (12.8%), and E. casseliflavus (6.7%). E. faecalis was most prevalent in house flies and cockroaches, and E. hirae was most common in pig feces. Our data showed that multi-drug (mainly tetracycline and erythromycin) resistant enterococci were common from all three sources and frequently carried antibiotic resistance genes including tet(M) and erm(B) and Tn 916/ 1545 transposon family. E. faecalis frequently harbored virulence factors gelE, esp, and asa1. PFGE analysis of selected E. faecalis and E. faecium isolates demonstrated that cockroaches and house flies shared some of the same enterococcal clones that were detected in the swine manure indicating that insects acquired enterococci from swine manure.


          This study shows that house flies and German cockroaches in the confined swine production environment likely serve as vectors and/or reservoirs of antibiotic resistant and potentially virulent enterococci and consequently may play an important role in animal and public health.

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          Update on acquired tetracycline resistance genes.

          This mini-review summarizes the changes in the field of bacterial acquired tetracycline resistance (tet) and oxytetracycline (otr) genes identified since the last major review in 2001. Thirty-eight acquired tetracycline resistant (Tc(r)) genes are known of which nine are new and include five genes coding for energy-dependent efflux proteins, two genes coding for ribosomal protection proteins, and two genes coding for tetracycline inactivating enzymes. The number of inactivating enzymes has increased from one to three, suggesting that work needs to be done to determine the role these enzymes play in bacterial resistance to tetracycline. In the same time period, 66 new genera have been identified which carry one or more of the previously described 29 Tc(r) genes. Included in the new genera is, for the first time, an obligate intracellular pathogen suggesting that this sheltered group of bacteria is capable of DNA exchange with non-obligate intracellular bacteria. The number of genera carrying ribosomal protection genes increased dramatically with the tet(M) gene now identified in 42 genera as compared with 24 and the tet(W) gene found in 17 new genera as compared to two genera in the last major review. New conjugative transposons, carrying different ribosomal protection tet genes, have been identified and an increase in the number of antibiotic resistance genes linked to tet genes has been found. Whether these new elements may help to spread the tet genes they carry to a wider bacterial host range is discussed.
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            Epidemiology of resistance to antibiotics. Links between animals and humans.

            An inevitable side effect of the use of antibiotics is the emergence and dissemination of resistant bacteria. Most retrospective and prospective studies show that after the introduction of an antibiotic not only the level of resistance of pathogenic bacteria, but also of commensal bacteria increases. Commensal bacteria constitute a reservior of resistance genes for (potentially) pathogenic bacteria. Their level of resistance is considered to be a good indicator for selection pressure by antibiotic use and for resistance problems to be expected in pathogens. Resistant commensal bacteria of food animals might contaminate, like zoonotic bacteria, meat (products) and so reach the intestinal tract of humans. Monitoring the prevalence of resistance in indicator bacteria such as faecal Escherichia coli and enterococci in different populations, animals, patients and healthy humans, makes it feasible to compare the prevalence of resistance and to detect transfer of resistant bacteria or resistance genes from animals to humans and vice versa. Only in countries that use or used avoparcin (a glycopeptide antibiotic, like vancomycin) as antimicrobial growth promoter (AMGP), is vancomycin resistance common in intestinal enterococci, not only in exposed animals, but also in the human population outside hospitals. Resistance genes against antibiotics, that are or have only been used in animals, i.e. nourseothricin, apramycin etc. were found soon after their introduction, not only in animal bacteria but also in the commensal flora of humans, in zoonotic pathogens like salmonellae, but also in strictly human pathogens, like shigellae. This makes it clear that not only clonal spread of resistant strains occurs, but also transfer of resistance genes between human and animal bacteria. Moreover, since the EU ban of avoparcin, a significant decrease has been observed in several European countries in the prevalence of vancomycin resistant enterococci in meat (products), in faecal samples of food animals and healthy humans, which underlines the role of antimicrobial usage in food animals in the selection of bacterial resistance and the transport of these resistances via the food chain to humans. To safeguard public health, the selection and dissemination of resistant bacteria from animals should be controlled. This can only be achieved by reducing the amounts of antibiotics used in animals. Discontinuing the practice of routinely adding AMGP to animal feeds would reduce the amounts of antibiotics used for animals in the EU by a minimum of 30% and in some member states even by 50%.
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              Changing patterns of infectious disease.

              M. Cohen (2000)
              Despite a century of often successful prevention and control efforts, infectious diseases remain an important global problem in public health, causing over 13 million deaths each year. Changes in society, technology and the microorganisms themselves are contributing to the emergence of new diseases, the re-emergence of diseases once controlled, and to the development of antimicrobial resistance. Two areas of special concern in the twenty-first century are food-borne disease and antimicrobial resistance. The effective control of infectious diseases in the new millennium will require effective public health infrastructures that will rapidly recognize and respond to them and will prevent emerging problems.

                Author and article information

                BMC Microbiol
                BMC Microbiology
                BioMed Central
                26 January 2011
                : 11
                : 23
                [1 ]Department of Entomology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA
                [2 ]Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA
                [3 ]Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA
                [4 ]Monsanto Company, St. Louis, MO 63167, USA
                Copyright ©2011 Ahmad et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 30 April 2010
                : 26 January 2011
                Research Article

                Microbiology & Virology
                Microbiology & Virology


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