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Title: Prevalence and antimicrobial susceptibility of pathogenic Escherichia coli O157 in fresh produce obtained from irrigated fields

item ABAKPA, G - Ahmadu Bello University
item UMOH, V - Ahmadu Bello University
item AMEH, J - Ahmadu Bello University
item YAKUBU, S - Ahmadu Bello University
item Ibekwe, Abasiofiok - Mark

Submitted to: Environmental Technology & Innovation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/14/2015
Publication Date: 3/24/2015
Citation: Abakpa, G.O., Umoh, V.J., Ameh, J.B., Yakubu, S.E., Ibekwe, A.M. 2015. Prevalence and antimicrobial susceptibility of pathogenic Escherichia coli O157 in fresh produce obtained from irrigated fields. Environmental Technology & Innovation. 4:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.eti.2015.03.003.

Interpretive Summary: Food and water-borne diseases associated with the use of contaminated irrigation water have been reported worldwide with the greatest impact in developing countries. Most importantly, the occurrence of multidrug resistant E. coli in surface waters used as sources for drinking, recreation, and irrigation of fresh produce is well document by the World Health Organization. In many developing countries, the use of untreated wastewater for irrigation is a common practice. In this study, fresh produce, irrigation water, and soil/manure samples were collected during dry and wet seasons and analyzed for the prevalence of E. coli O157 with resistant to different antibiotics. Higher numbers of E. coli were isolated during the wet season than dry season, and about 7% carried multidrug resistant genes. This is one of the few studies that is providing policy makers real data about the impact of poor irrigation water and water quality in general on public health. This information will be of interest to produce growers, government and non-government organizations, as well as livestock producers.

Technical Abstract: Escherichia coli O157 has been implicated in many outbreaks of gastroenteritis associated with the consumption of contaminated fresh vegetables, fruits and sprouts. In Nigeria, the use of untreated wastewater in irrigation is largely considered an inevitable option to compensate for water shortages. This study investigated the seasonal prevalence and antimicrobial susceptibility of potentially pathogenic E. coli from fresh produce in two large vegetable producing areas in Nigeria (Kano and Plateau States). Four hundred and forty samples, comprising fresh produce (238), irrigation water (84), and soil/manure samples (118) were collected from May, 2010 to March 2011, and analyzed for the presence of potentially pathogenic E. coli. Overall, 7.3% (32/440) samples were identified as presumptive E. coli O157 with its highest detection from Kano state 18/230 (12.2%). Potentially pathogenic E. coli O157 was 3 times higher in vegetables during the wet season than dry season and 2.3 times higher in irrigation water in wet season than in dry season. Potentially pathogenic E. coli O157 were tested for their susceptibility to eight commonly used antibiotics and by PCR for uidA, stx1and stx2 genes and for genes coding for the quinolone resistance-determining region (gyrA) and plasmid (pCT) coding for multidrug resistance. A prevalence rate of 7.3% (32/440) was obtained for potentially pathogenic E. coli O157 in the study. The confirmed isolates showed that 30/32 (93.8%) were resistant to two or more antibiotics distributed in seven different multidrug resistance patterns. The higher isolation rate of potential pathogenic E. coli in the wet season than in the dry season indicates its persistence and transport through irrigation water to fresh vegetables. Our results reflect possible public health hazards from consumption of these vegetables.