Escherichia coli was isolated from wild and captive Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) to investigate the risk of zoonotic infections and the prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant Escherichia coli in the wild macaque population in Shimokita Peninsula, a rural area of Japan. We collected 265 fresh fecal samples from wild macaques and 20 samples from captive macaques in 2005 and 2006 for E. coli isolation. The predominant isolates were characterized by serotyping, virulence gene profiling, plasmid profiling, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and microbial sensitivity tests. In total, 248 E. coli strains were isolated from 159 fecal samples from wild macaques, and 42 E. coli were isolated from 17 samples from captive macaques. None of the virulence genes eae, stx, elt, and est were detected in any of the isolates. The relatedness between wild- and captive-derived isolates was low by serotyping, PFGE, and plasmid profiling. Serotypes O8:H6, O8:H34, O8:H42, O8:HUT, O103:H27, O103:HNM, and OUT:H27 were found in wild macaque feces; serotypes O157:H42 and O119:H21 were recovered from captive macaques. O-and H-serotypes of the 26 isolates were not typed by commercial typing antisera and were named OUT and HUT, respectively. Twenty-eight isolates had no flagellar antigen, and their H-serotypes were named HNM. Similarity of PFGE patterns between wild-derived isolates and captive-derived isolates was <70%. No plasmid profile was shared between wild-derived and captive-derived isolates. The prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant E. coli was 6.5% (n=62) in wild macaques, and these isolates were resistant to cephalothin. We conclude that wild Japanese macaques in Shimokita Peninsula were unlikely to act as a reservoir of pathogenic E. coli for humans and that antimicrobial-resistant E. coli in wild macaques may be derived from humans.
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Vol. 47 • No. 2