Background: Globally, chicken is known to be a reservoir for the spread of antimicrobial resistance genes to humans. In Nigeria, antimicrobial drugs are readily accessible for use in poultry production, either for preventive or therapeutic purposes. Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing Escherichia coli (ESBL-EC) are transmissible to humans because of their zoonotic potentials. People working very closely with chickens either on farms or markets are at greater risk. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and zoonotic transmission of ESBL-EC among poultry-workers, chickens, and poultry environments in Abuja, Nigeria.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study among workers, chickens and poultry environment in selected farms/chicken markets in Abuja. Stool, faecal, and environmental samples were collected from apparently healthy workers, chickens, and farm/market environments from December 2018 to April 2019. Data were collected electronically using an open data kit (ODK) installed on a Smartphone. Antimicrobial resistance was determined using broth micro-dilution methods against a panel of 14 antimicrobial agents. We carried out the phenotypic and genotypic characterization of the isolates. Data were analyzed by computing frequencies, proportions and spearman's correlation (ρ).
Results: Of 429 samples, 26.8% (n = 115) were positive for Escherichia coli (E. coli). Of the 115 E. coli isolates, 32.2% (n = 37) were confirmed ESBL producers by phenotypic characterization. Prevalence of ESBL-EC was highest among both poultry-workers (37.8%; n = 14) and chickens (37.8%; n = 14) followed by the environment (24.3%; n = 9). Both human and chicken isolates showed similar patterns of multidrug resistance to tested antimicrobials with a positive correlation (ρ = 0.91). Among ESBL producers, we observed the dissemination of blaCTX-M (10.8%; n = 4) genes. The coexistence of blaCTX-M-15 and blaTEM-1 genes was observed in 8.1% (n = 3) of the isolates, out of which (66.7%; n = 2) were chicken isolates from the farm, while a single human isolate was from the chicken market.
Conclusions: ESBL-EC isolates were prevalent amongst apparently healthy individuals, chickens and the poultry farm/market environment in Abuja. It is important to educate healthcare workers that people in proximity with poultry are a high-risk group for faecal carriage of ESBL-EC, hence pose a higher risk to the general population for the spread of antimicrobial resistance.