Characterization of antimicrobial resistance genes in Enterobacteriaceae carried by suburban mesocarnivores and locally owned and stray dogs

Katherine E.L. Worsley-Tonks, Elizabeth A. Miller, Stanley D. Gehrt, Shane C. McKenzie, Dominic A. Travis, Timothy J. Johnson, Meggan E. Craft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The role of wildlife in the dissemination of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) in the environment is of increasing concern. We investigated the occurrence, richness and transmissibility potential of ARGs detected in the faeces of three mesocarnivore species: the coyote (Canis latrans), raccoon (Procyon lotor) and Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), and of stray and owned dogs in suburban Chicago, IL, USA. Rectal swabs were collected from live-captured coyotes (n = 32), raccoons (n = 31) and Virginia opossums (n = 22). Fresh faecal samples were collected from locally owned (n = 13) and stray dogs (n = 18) and from the live-captured mesocarnivores, when available. Faecal samples and rectal swabs were enriched to select for Enterobacteriaceae and pooled by mesocarnivore species and dog type (owned or stray). Pooled enriched samples were then analysed for the presence of ARGs using shotgun sequencing. The three mesocarnivore and stray dog samples had twice as many unique ARGs compared to the owned dog sample, which was partly driven by a greater richness of beta-lactamase genes (genes conferring resistance to penicillins and cephalosporins). Raccoon and stray dog samples had the most ARGs in common, suggesting possible exposure to similar environmental sources of ARGs. In addition to identifying clinically relevant ARGs (e.g. blaCMY and qnrB), some ARGs were linked to the class 1 integrase gene, intI1, which may indicate anthropogenic origin. Findings from this pilot investigation suggest that the microbial communities of suburban mesocarnivores and stray dogs can host ARGs that can confer resistance to several antimicrobials used in human and veterinary medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-466
Number of pages7
JournalZoonoses and Public Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • anthropogenic
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • domestic dog
  • metagenomic sequencing
  • urban
  • wildlife

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

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