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Colistin-resistant Escherichia coli carrying mcr-1 in food, water, hand rinse, and healthy human gut in Bangladesh.

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One of the most significant public health concerns in today's world is the persistent upsurge of infections caused by multidrug resistant bacteria. As a result, clinicians are being forced to intervene with either less effective backup drugs or ones with substantial side-effects. Colistin is a last resort antimicrobial agent for the treatment of infections caused by multi-drug resistant gram-negative bacteria.


Escherichia coli (n = 65) isolated from street food (n = 20), hand rinse (n = 15), surface water (n = 10), and healthy human stool (n = 20) were tested for colistin resistance gene mcr-1 and response to antimicrobial agents. Antimicrobial resistance genes and virulence genes were detected by employing polymerase chain reaction. DNA fingerprinting of the strains were determined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis.


Screening of E. coli allowed us to confirm colistin resistance marker gene mcr-1 in 13 strains (street food, n = 4; hand rinse, n = 2; surface water, n = 4; and stool, n = 3); and two of these E. coli strains carrying mcr-1 harbored bla TEM gene encoding extended spectrum beta lactamase. Antibiotic assay results revealed all 13 E. coli strains carrying mcr-1 to be multi-drug resistant (MDR), including to colistin. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) for colistin ranged from 2 to 6 μg/ml. DNA sequencing confirmed homogeneity of the nucleotide sequence for mcr-1, but the E. coli strains were heterogenous, as confirmed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis suggesting horizontal transmission of colistin resistance in Bangladesh.


Widespread dissemination of E. coli strains carrying mcr-1 encoding resistance to colistin in the present study is alarming as this is the last resort drug for the treatment of infections caused by MDR gram-negative bacteria resistant to almost all drugs used commonly.

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