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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Multiple Antimicrobial Resistance in Plague: An Emerging Public Health Risk

item Welch, Timothy - Tim
item Fricke, Wolfgang
item Rosso, Marie
item Rasko, David
item Mammel, Mark
item Eppinger, Mark
item Rosovitz, M
item White, David
item Mcdermott, Patrick
item Wagner, David
item Rahalison, Lila
item Leclerc, J
item Hinshaw, Jeffrey
item Lindler, Luther
item Cebula, Thomas
item Carniel, Elisabeth
item Ravel, Jacques

Submitted to: PLoS One
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/19/2007
Publication Date: 3/21/2007
Citation: Welch, T.J., Fricke, W.F., Rosso, M.L., Rasko, D.A., Mammel, M., Eppinger, M., Rosovitz, M.J., White, D.G., Mcdermott, P.F., Wagner, D., Rahalison, L., Leclerc, J.E., Hinshaw, J.M., Lindler, L.E., Cebula, T.A., Carniel, E., Ravel, J. 2007. Multiple Antimicrobial Resistance in Plague: An Emerging Public Health Risk. PLoS One. Vol.1 (3)1-6.

Interpretive Summary: Yersinia pestis is a gram negative bacterium that causes plague, a serious disease in humans that is thought to have caused an estimated 200 million deaths and killed nearly one third (20 million) of the European population during the Black Death pandemic of the 1300s. Antibiotic resistance in Yersinia pestis is rare but constitutes a significant threat given that antibiotics are used both for plague treatment and to prevent human-to-human transmission. In this study we identified and sequenced a multiple-antibiotic-resistance plasmid from the fish pathogen Yersinia ruckeri. Subsequent DNA sequence analysis revealed highly similar plasmids in isolates of Yersinia pestis and Salmonella enterica, and further screening showed that this plasmid backbone is broadly disseminated among human and animal pathogens associated with agriculture.

Technical Abstract: Antimicrobial resistance in Yersinia pestis is rare, yet constitutes a significant international public health and biodefense threat. In 1995, the first multidrug resistant (MDR) isolate of Y. pestis (strain IP275) was identified, and shown to contain a self-transmissible plasmid (pIP1202) that confers resistance to many of the antimicrobials recommended for plague treatment and prophylaxis. Comparative analysis of the DNA sequence of Y. pestis plasmid pIP1202 revealed a near identical IncA/C plasmid backbone that is shared by MDR plasmids isolated from Salmonella enterica serotype Newport SL254 and the fish pathogen Yersinia ruckeri YR71. The high degree of sequence identity and gene synteny of this shared plasmid backbone suggests recent acquisition of these plasmids from a common ancestor. In addition, the Y. pestis pIP1202-like plasmid backbone was detected in numerous MDR enterobacterial pathogens isolated from retail meat samples collected between 2002 and 2005 in the United States. Plasmid-positive strains were isolated from beef, chicken, turkey and pork, and were found in samples from the following states: CA, CO, CT, GA, MD, MN, NM, NY and OR. These studies reveal that this common plasmid backbone is broadly disseminated among MDR zoonotic pathogens associated with agriculture. This reservoir of mobile resistance determinants has the potential to disseminate to Y. pestis and other human and zoonotic bacterial pathogens and therefore represents a significant public health concern.

Last Modified: 06/25/2017
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