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Lack of Superbugs in Sable Island Horses

Mary testing the susceptibility of her organisms using the Sensititre system.

Congratulations to Mary on her paper! Her manuscript entitled “A survey of the antimicrobial susceptibility of Escherichia coli isolated from Sable Island horses” was published online today in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology, click for the full story. Mary’s paper describes the antimicrobial susceptibility of E. coli isolated from the Sable Island horses and is TheRubinLab’s 2nd published investigation into the presence of antimicrobial resistance in Canadian wildlife. This project is a collaboration with Dr. Philip McLoughlin and his research group in the Department of Biology at the U of S who have been working with the Sable Island horses since 2007. In this study Mary tested the feces from 508/552 horses on the island, 92% of the population, for E. coli and then determined the antimicrobial susceptibility of these bacteria. Although she found that the vast majority of horses carried exclusively drug susceptible isolates, one extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL) producing superbug was identified. The Sable Island horses are a remote population of wild/feral animals which may prove to be an invaluable sentinel for the detection of the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance.

We would like to thank all of the volunteers and field workers who contributed to this project and the L. David Dubé and heather Ryan Equine Health Research fund for financial support. Thanks to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine Interprovincial Undergraduate Student Research Program for stipend support for Mary.

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