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  • 1 Université Laval, Quebec City, G1V 0A6 Quebec, Canada
  • 2 Pasteur Institute of Tunis, Tunisia
  • 3 Universidad de La Rioja, Logroño, Spain
  • 4 Université de Tunis El Manar, Tunis, Tunisie
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The spread of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in wildlife must be viewed as a major concern with serious implications for human and animal health. Escherichia coli and enterococcal isolates were recovered from faecal samples of 49 wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) on specific media and were characterised using biochemical and molecular tests. For all isolates, antimicrobial susceptibility testing was performed, and resistance genes were detected by PCR. Molecular typing of isolates was carried out by pulsed-field gel-electrophoresis, and E. coli strains were also tested for the presence of intimin (eae) gene characteristic of rabbit enteropathogenic E. coli. A total of 34 E. coli and 36 enterococci [E. hirae (52.8%) and E. faecalis (47.2%)] were obtained. For E. coli, resistance to tetracycline (94%), streptomycin (62%), ciprofloxacin (47%), trimethoprim-sulphamethoxazole (35%) and chloramphenicol (6%) was observed. Resistance to third-generation cephalosporins was detected in one E. coli strain that carried the blaCMY-2 and blaTEM-1 genes. Class 1 integrons were detected in eight isolates. For enterococci, resistance to tetracycline (63.9%), erythromycin (30.5%), streptomycin (18.2%), and chloramphenicol (5.5%) was detected. The tet(M)+tet(L), erm(B) and ant (6)-Ia genes were identified in thirteen, seven and three resistant Enterococcus strains, respectively. Molecular typing showed a high diversity among our strains. Wild rabbits could represent a reservoir of E. coli, and enterococci carrying antimicrobial resistance genes and E. coli additionally carrying the eae gene of enteropathogenic pathotypes could both contaminate the environment. our finding seems to represent the first report of eae-positive E. coli in wild rabbits.

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