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Antibiotics 2018, 7(3), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics7030073

Where Did They Come from—Multi-Drug Resistant Pathogenic Escherichia coli in a Cemetery Environment?

1
Antimicrobial Research Unit, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X54001, Durban 4000, South Africa
2
Water Research Commission, Private Bag X03 Gezina, Pretoria 0031, South Africa
3
Department of Biotechnology, University of Johannesburg, Doornfontein, Johannesburg 2094, South Africa
4
Engineering Geology and Hydrology, Department of Geology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0084, South Africa
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 May 2018 / Revised: 1 August 2018 / Accepted: 10 August 2018 / Published: 14 August 2018
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Abstract

Human burial in cemeteries facilitates the decomposition of corpses without posing a public health danger. However, the role of cemeteries as potential environmental reservoirs of drug-resistant pathogens has not been studied. Thus, we investigated cemeteries as potential environmental reservoirs of multi-drug resistant (MDR) pathogenic Escherichia coli. E. coli isolates were obtained from water samples (collected from surface water bodies and boreholes in three cemeteries) after isolation using the Colilert® 18 system. Pathogenic potentials of the isolates were investigated using real-time polymerase chain reactions targeting seven virulence genes (VGs) pertaining to six E. coli pathotypes. The resistance of isolates to eight antibiotics was tested using the Kirby–Bauer disc diffusion method. The mean E. coli concentrations varied from <1 most probable number (MPN)/100 mL to 2419.6 MPN/100 mL with 48% of 100 isolates being positive for at least one of the VGs tested. Furthermore, 87% of the isolates were resistant to at least one of the antibiotics tested, while 72% of the isolates displayed multi-drug resistance. Half of the MDR isolates harboured a VG. These results suggest that cemeteries are potential reservoirs of MDR pathogenic E. coli, originating from surrounding informal settlements, which could contaminate groundwater if the cemeteries are in areas with shallow aquifers. View Full-Text
Keywords: cemetery; pathogenic E. coli; multi-drug resistance; antibiotic resistance; environmental reservoirs; public health cemetery; pathogenic E. coli; multi-drug resistance; antibiotic resistance; environmental reservoirs; public health
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Abia, A.L.K.; Ubomba-Jaswa, E.; Schmidt, C.; Dippenaar, M.A. Where Did They Come from—Multi-Drug Resistant Pathogenic Escherichia coli in a Cemetery Environment? Antibiotics 2018, 7, 73.

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