Int J Environ Health Res. 2021 Mar 11:1-16. doi: 10.1080/09603123.2021.1896681. Online ahead of print.
The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of commensal and pathogenic Escherichia coli on informally sold fresh produce in South Africa, who harbour and express antimicrobial resistance genes and therefore pose indirect risks to public health. The majority (85.71%) of E. coli isolates from spinach, apples, carrots, cabbage and tomatoes, were multidrug resistant (MDR). Resistance to Aminoglycoside (94.81%), Cephalosporin (93.51%), Penicillin (93.51%) and Chloramphenicol (87.01%) antibiotic classes were most prevalent. Antibiotic resistance genes detected included blaTEM (89.29%), tetA (82.14%), tetB (53.57%), tetL (46.43%), sulI (41.07%), sulII (51.79%), aadA1a (58.93%) and strAB (51.79%). A single isolate was found to harbour eae virulence factor. Moreover, E. coli isolates were grouped into the intra-intestinal infectious phylogenetic group E (28.57%), the rare group C (26.79%), the generalist group B1 (21.43%) and the human commensal group A (16.07%). Presence of MDR E. coli represents a transmission route and significant human health risk.