Occurrence and antibiotic resistance of escherichia coli O157:H7 in a watershed in north-central Indiana

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Received for publication February 11, 2008. The Wildcat Creek in north-central Indiana is an impaired stream with historically high fecal coliform counts. This study evaluated the presence of both fecal coliforms and Escherichia coli O157:H7 at five sites in rural and urban areas in the eastern part of the Wildcat Creek watershed. Escherichia coli O157:H7 was isolated by immunomagnetic separation. Shiga-like toxin genes (stx1 and stx2) were detected in selected isolates by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification. Isolates of E. coli O157:H7 were also tested by the Kirby-Bauer method for their resistance to eight different antibiotics. Fecal coliform counts were high at two sites located downstream from the city of Kokomo. Escherichia coli O157:H7 was found to be a common occurrence in both the urban and rural parts of the Wildcat Creek watershed, being detected at least twice from each site. This bacterium was also found at various times of the year. Additionally, isolates of antibiotic resistant E. coli O157:H7 were detected from various sites along the stream, especially in sites located in the city and downstream from the urban area, suggesting that human activities might be associated with the dissemination of these bacteria.

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