To determine the antimicrobial susceptibility profiles and prevalence of resistance genes in Escherichia coli isolated from yaks (Bos grunniens) and herdsmen in nine plateau pastures in Tibet, we isolated 184 nonidentical strains of E. coli from yaks and herdsmen. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing of 15 antimicrobials was conducted and the prevalence of sulfonamide resistance genes (sul1, sul2, and sul3) and florfenicol resistance genes (floR, cfr, cmlA, fexA, pexA, and estDL136) was determined. Escherichia coli isolated from yaks had a high resistance rate to sulfamethoxazole (44%), sulphafurazole (40.4%), and florfenicol (11.4%). Escherichia coli isolated from herdsmen had a high resistance rate to sulfamethoxazole (57%) and sulphafurazole (51%). In addition, sul genes were present in 93% of sulfonamide-resistant isolates (84/90), and 17 floR genes and four cmlA genes were found in 19 florfenicol-resistant isolates. Even though florfenicol is prohibited from use in humans, three floR genes were detected in strains isolated from herdsmen. The three floR-positive isolates from herdsmen had pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns similar to isolates from yaks. In addition to documenting the sul and floR genes in E. coli isolated from yaks and herdsmen in the Tibetan pasture, we demonstrated the potential risk that antimicrobial-resistant E. coli could spread among herdsmen and yaks.
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Vol. 51 • No. 3