Tracking Pathogen Transmission at the Human–Wildlife Interface: Banded Mongoose and Escherichia coli
A primary challenge to managing emerging infectious disease is identifying pathways that allow pathogen transmission at the human–wildlife interface. Using Escherichia coli as a model organism, we evaluated fecal bacterial transmission between banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) and humans in northern Botswana. Fecal samples were collected from banded mongoose living in protected areas (n = 87, 3 troops) and surrounding villages (n = 92, 3 troops). Human fecal waste was collected from the same environment (n = 46). Isolates were evaluated for susceptibility to 10 antibiotics. Resistant E. coli isolates from mongoose were compared to human isolates using rep-PCR fingerprinting and MLST-PCR. Antimicrobial resistant isolates were identified in 57 % of the mongoose fecal samples tested (range 31–78% among troops). At least one individual mongoose fecal sample demonstrated resistance to each tested antibiotic, and multidrug resistance was highest in the protected areas (40.9%). E. coli isolated from mongoose and human sources in this study demonstrated an extremely high degree of genetic similarity on rep-PCR (AMOVA, FST = 0.0027, p = 0.18) with a similar pattern identified on MLST-PCR. Human waste may be an important source of microbial exposure to wildlife. Evidence of high levels of antimicrobial resistance even within protected areas identifies an emerging health threat and highlights the need for improved waste management in these systems.