Multidrug-resistant (MDR) Escherichia coli causes extraintestinal infections in both humans and animals. This study aimed to determine whether MDR E. coli isolates cultured from extraintestinal infections in several animal species were clonal and crossed host-species boundaries, as suggested by initial characterization of a subset of canine and human isolates, or whether they represented a diverse group of host-specific strains. Isolates were obtained either from The University of Queensland Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory or from an independent diagnostic laboratory between October 1999 and December 2007. Ninety-six MDR E. coli isolates cultured from extraintestinal clinical infections in 55 animals comprising dogs (n=45), cats (n=5), horses (n=4) and a koala (n=1) were analysed by phylogenetic grouping, antimicrobial susceptibility testing and PFGE. The isolates were cultured from the urinary tract (n=61), reproductive tract (n=11), wounds (n=11), surgical site infections (n=4) and other sites (n=9). Isolates from the same E. coli phylogenetic group with 100 % PFGE similarity and the same antimicrobial susceptibility pattern were considered to be repeat clones and excluded from further analysis. Three of the four E. coli phylogenetic groups (A, n=19; B1, n=8; and D, n=49) were represented. Analysis of PFGE similarity identified clusters of related phylogenetic group A isolates [clonal group (CG) 1] and group D isolates (CG2 and CG3), with the remainder of the isolates demonstrating diversity. The majority of CG2 isolates contained a plasmid-borne AmpC β-lactamase, imparting resistance to cefoxitin and third-generation cephalosporins, and were obtained between 2000 and 2003. CG3 isolates were sensitive to these antimicrobial agents and appeared to replace CG2 isolates as the dominant clones from 2003 to 2007. Apart from several canine and feline isolates that demonstrated clonality, PFGE profiles tended to be divergent across species. Whilst MDR E. coli isolates from extraintestinal infections in different animal species are diverse, some dominant CGs may persist over several years.
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