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Temporal Trends in Antimicrobial Resistance of Fecal Escherichia coli from Deer


The changing epidemiologic role of wildlife as reservoirs of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria (ARB) is poorly understood. In this study, we characterize the phenotypic resistance of commensal Escherichia coli from fecal samples of 879 individual white-tailed (Odocoileus virginianus; WTD) over a ten-year period and analyze resistance patterns. Our results show commensal E. coli from WTD had significant linear increases in reduced susceptibility to 5 of 12 antimicrobials, including broad-spectrum cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones, from 2006 to 2016. In addition, the relative frequency distribution of minimal inhibitory concentrations of two additional antimicrobials shifted towards higher values from across the study period. The prevalence of multidrug-resistant commensal E. coli increased over the study period with a prevalence of 0%, 2.2%, and 3.7% in 2006, 2012, and 2016, respectively. WTD may be persistently and increasingly exposed to antibiotics or their residues, ARB, and/or antimicrobial resistance genes via contaminated environments like surface water receiving treated wastewater effluent.

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The authors would like to acknowledge the staff from Cleveland Metroparks and the laboratory of Thomas Wittum who provided assistance with sample collection and processing. Funding for this project was provided in part by USDA NIFA award no. 2013-68003-21282.

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Correspondence to Thomas E. Wittum.

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Ballash, G.A., Munoz-Vargas, L., Albers, A. et al. Temporal Trends in Antimicrobial Resistance of Fecal Escherichia coli from Deer. EcoHealth 18, 288–296 (2021).

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  • antimicrobial resistance
  • white-tailed deer
  • temporal trends
  • Escherichia coli