This study aimed at assessing the role of ubiquitous (non-Escherichia coli) Enterobacteriaceae in the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance through the urban water cycle. Enterobacteriaceae isolated from a municipal wastewater treatment plant (111 isolates), urban water streams (33 isolates) and drinking water (123 isolates) were compared in terms of: (i) genera distribution, (ii) resistance to 12 antibiotics, and (iii) class 1 and class 2 integrons. The predominant bacterial genera were the same in the different types of water, although with a distinct pattern of species. The most prevalent resistance phenotypes were observed for amoxicillin, ticarcillin, cephalothin and sulphamethoxazole (24–59% in the three types of water). No resistance against ceftazidime or meropenem was observed. Resistance to cephalothin, amoxicillin and sulphamethoxazole was significantly more prevalent in drinking water, water streams and wastewater, respectively, than in the other types of water. It was possible to recognize antibiotic-resistance associations, namely for the pairs streptomycin–tetracycline (positive) and ticarcillin–cephalotin (negative). Class 1 and/or class 2 integrons with similar gene cassettes were detected in the three types of water. This study demonstrated that Enterobacteriaceae are important vehicles of antibiotic resistance, namely in drinking water.

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