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E. coli Strains in Urban Pigeons in Brazil

Curr Microbiol. 2009 Jun 6.

Diarrheagenic Escherichia coli Strains Recovered from Urban Pigeons (Columba livia) in Brazil and Their Antimicrobial Susceptibility Patterns, by Silva VL, Nicoli JR, Nascimento TC, Diniz CG.

Laboratory of Bacterial Physiology and Molecular Genetics, Department of Parasitology, Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Biological Sciences, Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Juiz de Fora, MG, 36036-900, Brazil.

Urban pigeons (Columba livia) come into close contact with humans and animals, and may contribute to the spread of infectious agents. These may include human pathogens such as diarrheagenic Escherichia coli strains, which are able to survive in pigeon feces, thus creating potential for human exposure and infection. Our objectives were to determine the occurrence of diarrheagenic E. coli strains in fresh feces from urban pigeons and their drug susceptibility patterns.

E. coli strains were isolated from 100 fresh feces samples and presumptive phenotypic species identification was carried out, confirmed by amplification of specific 16S ribosomal RNA encoding DNA. Multiplex PCR was performed to characterize pathogenic strains. Drug susceptibility patterns were determined by the agar dilution method.

Enteroinvasive E. coli, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, enteropathogenic E. coli, and enterotoxigenic E. coli were detected at an overall rate of 12.1%. Among the isolated E. coli strains, 62.1% were susceptible to all tested drugs, whereas 37.9% were resistant to at least one of the antimicrobials tested. Amikacin was the less effective drug (36.8% resistance), followed by ampicillin (7.8%). No resistance was detected to gentamicin, ceftriaxone, and ceftazidime and almost all the isolates were susceptible to ampicillin-sulbactam (98.4%), levofloxacin (97.8%), and trimethoprim-sulfametoxazole (96.1%).

Since these pigeons may harbor multidrug-resistant pathogens, their presence in an urban environment could be an important component of infection spread, with impact on public health.

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