In this study, the presence of extended spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli in aquatic environments (the Orontes River and an urban wastewater) was investigated. Fifty-four E. coli strains resistant to cefotaxime were isolated from the river waters and nearby waste water treatment plant and screened for ESBL gene variants, different classes of integrons and sulfonamide resistance genes. The ESBL-producing E. coli strains were further characterized by PhP-typing system, phylogenetic grouping and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Of the 54 ESBL-producing strains, 14 (25.9%) belonged to four common PhP types and the remaining were of single types. CTX-M type ESBL genes were identified in 68% of the isolates. The most predominant specific CTX-M subtype identified was blaCTX−M−15 (n = 36), followed by blaCTX−M−1 (n = 1). None of the isolates were SHV and OXA positive. Most of the ESBL positive isolates (n = 37; 68.5%) were harboring sul gene. This study indicates a widespread distribution of CTX-M-15 producing E. coli strains in the surface waters in part of Turkey, suggesting an aquatic reservoir for ESBL genes.

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