Characterization of Antimicrobial Resistance and Virulence Genotypes of Enterococcus faecalis Recovered from a Pork Processing Plant

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The objective of this study was to assess the antimicrobial resistance and virulence genotypes of Enterococcus faecalis isolated from samples obtained from a commercial pork processing plant. A total of 200 samples were randomly obtained from carcasses after bleeding (BC; 50 samples) and pasteurization (PC; 100 samples) and from retail pork products (RP; 50 samples). One isolate from each E. faecalis –positive sample was analyzed for antimicrobial susceptibility and characterized using a enterococcal microarray for analysis of resistance and virulence genes. E. faecalis was isolated from 79.5% of BC samples, 2% of PC samples, and 72.7% of RP samples. Resistance to the clinically important drugs ciprofloxacin (one isolate each from BC and RP samples) and daptomycin (one isolate each from PC and RP samples) was found. Multiresistance (to five or more antimicrobials) was more common in E. faecalis isolates from BC (77.4% of isolates) samples than those from PC (25%) and RP (37.6%) samples. Resistance to kanamycin (43.5%) and streptomycin (69.2%) was noted mostly in E. faecalis from BC samples. The most common resistance genes (>5% prevalence) found in E. faecalis were those for aminoglycosides (aac(6), aphA3, and aadE), macrolides-lincosamide (ermB, ermA, sat(4), and linB), and tetracyclines (tetL, tetM, and tetO ). The virulence genes expressing adhesion (ace, efaAfs, and agrBfs), gelatinase (gelE), and pheromone (cAM, ccF10, cob, and cpd1) factors were found in the majority of isolates. Significant associations were found between resistance and virulence genes, suggesting their possible relationship. These data suggest that carcasses entering the final product processing area are mostly free of E. faecalis but are recontaminated with antimicrobial-resistant strains during processing. The source of these contaminants remains to be identified; however, these results underscore the importance of E. faecalis as a reservoir of resistance and virulence genes.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Lacombe Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lacombe, Alberta, Canada T4L 1W1., Email: 2: Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Agassiz, British Columbia, Canada V0M 1A0 3: National Research Council of Canada, Biotechnology Research Institute, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4P 2R2

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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