Prevalence and Molecular Epidemiology of Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE) Strains Isolated from Animals and Humans in Korea
Background To assess the possibility of VRE transmission from animals to humans, we studied the prevalence of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) in farm animals, raw chicken meat, and healthy people. We then determined the molecular relatedness of VRE isolates between animals and humans in Korea. Methods We aimed to isolate VRE from 150 enterococci specimens of farm animals, 15 raw chicken meat samples, and stools from 200 healthy people. Species differentiation was done with conventional biochemical tests. Vancomycin resistance genotyping was done by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Using the agar dilution method, antimicrobial susceptibility was tested for 8 antimicrobials and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) was done to evaluate the molecular relatedness of VRE isolates. Results The prevalence of VRE was 14.7% (22/150) in farm animal specimens, 1% (2/200) in healthy people, and 60% (9/15) in raw chicken meat. Of 22 animal VRE isolates, 1 vanA E. faecium , 15 vanC1 E. gallinarum , and 6 vanC2 E. casseliflavus were identified. All of the 9 VRE from raw chicken meat and all of the 20 clinical VRE strains were vanA E. faecium . However, in healthy people, only 2 vanC2 E. casseliflavus were isolated. These showed low-level resistance to vancomycin and susceptibility to teicoplanin. However, 9 VRE strains from raw chicken meat had high-level resistance to vancomycin (MIC 50,90 : >128 μg/mL), teicoplanin (MIC 50,90 : >128 μg/mL), ampicillin (MIC 50,90 : >128 μg/mL), erythromycin (MIC 50,90 : >128 μg/mL), and tetracycline (MIC 50,90 : 128/>128 μg/mL). Conclusion This study demonstrated little evidence of VRE colonization in healthy people despite high recovery of VRE among raw chicken meat. It is suggested that there is little evidence of VRE transmission from animals to healthy people. However, we assumed that there exists the possibility of VRE contamination during the processing of chicken meat.
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