Antimicrobial resistance among E. coli is posing increasing challenges to veterinarians and physicians to treat their patients. The β-lactams (the drug class including penicillin-like drugs) are the most commonly used antimicrobials in dogs but with the emergence of extended-spectrum β-lactamases (ESBLs) conferring broad spectrum β-lactams resistance, the future of these drugs is threatened. E. coli is the most common cause of urinary tract infections in dogs, accounting for just over 50% of all infections identified by Prairie Diagnostic Services. Very little is known about the frequency of ESBL producing E. coli in companion animals worldwide, and until our research no studies have been done to characterize the mechanisms of β-lactam resistance in clinical isolates from Western Canada.  

In collaboration with Prairie Diagnostic

Services, the Rubin lab has been collecting E. coli isolated from canine urinary tract infections since October 2013. After the first year of the investigation it became clear that we are in a unique position to describe the emergence of resistance from VERY low levels; ~80% of isolates were susceptible to all drugs tested and none of the isolates possessed ESBL genes. Subsequently, we have seen the frequency of antimicrobial resistance increase and have detected for the first time in Western Canada ESBL genes from E. coli infecting companion animals. Our goal is to continue this passive antimicrobial resistance study for a total of at least 5 years; we aim to describe the emergence of antimicrobial resistance including the resistance genes responsible.

This investigation is supported by a Zoetis Investment in Innovation Grant and the Gavina Maggie Reekie Fund at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Associated Students: 
  • Rachel Courtice

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