Tetracycline-Resistant Escherichia coli in a Small Stream Receiving Fish Hatchery Effluent
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We examined the impact of the effluent discharged from a freshwater (trout and related species) fish hatchery on the presence of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms in a small stream. There had been no documented use of antibiotics in the hatchery for at least 6 months prior to our study, although a variety of biocides were employed routinely for cleaning. Heterotrophic bacteria and Escherichia coli were isolated from both water column and sediment samples at sites above and below the discharge of the hatchery effluent as well as from the hatchery effluent itself. Randomly chosen isolates (≥96 isolates per site) were tested for their resistance to ampicillin, cephalexin, erythromycin, and tetracycline. Resistance to at least one antibiotic was found in greater than 30% of both the heterotrophic isolates and the E. coli isolates from each of the sites. There were no significant differences among the sites in the proportion of the heterotrophic isolates resistant to any specific antibiotic. The proportion of E. coli isolates resistant to tetracycline in the hatchery effluent and in both the downstream water and sediment samples was significantly higher than in either the upstream water or sediment. These results support the possibility of the hatchery as a source of tetracycline-resistant microorganisms even in the absence of recent use of this antibiotic.