Arch Microbiol. 2021 Apr 9. doi: 10.1007/s00203-021-02316-4. Online ahead of print.
Drug users may represent a hidden reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes among their intestinal flora due to the poor hygiene and inappropriate use of antibiotics. Therefore, this study was focused to examine the prevalence of extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL) genes among intestinal Escherichia coli isolated from drug users in Ahvaz, Iran. Among clients of toxicology laboratory who were confirmed their addiction to each of Morphine, Amphetamine or Methamphetamine, 109 drug users were examined voluntarily for infection with hepatitis B or C using commercial enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) method. Their stool specimens were obtained to isolate intestinal E. coli. The disc diffusion and combination disk methods were conducted to demonstrate antibiotic resistance pattern and phenotypically ESBL producers. ESBL-encoding genes (bla-TEM, bla-CTX-M, and bla-SHV) were also examined by PCR. Based on results, hepatitis C infection was more prevalent than hepatitis B among drug users. Of 109 isolates, a total of 57 (52.29%) ESBL positive E. coli were obtained from drug users and bla-TEM gene (60.55%) was found to be the most prevalent type, followed by bla-CTX-M (40.36%) and bla-SHV (39.44%). All isolates represented different resistance levels to tested antibiotics and 54.43% of the ESBL‑producing isolates showed multidrug resistance (MDR) and the most frequent MDR pattern was simultaneous resistance to the seven (27.90%) of antimicrobials particularly erythromycin, penicillin, amoxycilin, cefteriaxon, cefotaxim, tetracycline and trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole. Fecal carriage of ESBL-production and MDR commensal isolates such as E. coli among drug users underlines the risk of transferring resistance genes between nonpathogenic and pathogenic bacteria.