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To contribute to the understanding of multiresistant bacteria, a 'One Health' approach in estimating the rate of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli and getting insights into the transmission from clinical settings to the surrounding environment was employed by collecting fecal samples of dogs in a public area. Isolates were compared to those from samples of diseased dogs from a nearby small-animal clinic.
One hundred fecal samples of dogs were collected on a single day in the public area of a veterinary faculty with a small-animal clinic and adjacent residential neighborhoods. All identified ESBL-producing strains were isolated by selective plating, genotypically analyzed by DNA microarray, polymerase chain reaction, sequence analysis, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and compared to 11 clinical ESBL/AmpC-producing E. coli isolated from diseased dogs treated in the small-animal clinic 2 months before and 2 months following the environmental sampling collection.
Fourteen percent (14/100) of the extra-clinical samples harbored phenotypic ESBL/putative AmpC-producing E. coli with additional resistances against other antimicrobials. One ESBL-strain displayed an identical macrorestriction pattern to one clinical, another one to three clinical clonal ESBL-producing strains. The genotypic ESBL-determinants (blaCTX-M-1 and blaCTX-M-15) and detection rates (10%) in dog feces collected outside of the small-animal clinic are comparable to the rates and ESBL-types in the healthy human population in Germany and to clinical and non-clinical samples of humans and companion animals in Europe. The occurrence of identical strains detected both outside and inside the clinical setting suggests a connection between the small-animal clinic and the surrounding environment. In conclusion, dog feces collected in proximity to veterinary facilities should be considered as a non-point infection source of zoonotic ESBL-producing E. coli for both animals and humans. The common sniffing behavior of dogs further urges hygienic measures on the part of dog-patient owners, who should be educated to remove their pet's feces immediately and effectively.