This study analyzes the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of major diarrheagenic Escherichia coli (DEC) pathotypes detected in hospitalized diarrheal patients in Kolkata, India, during 2012-2019.
A total of 8,891 stool samples were collected from the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Kolkata and screened for the presence of enteric pathogens. Multiplex-PCR identified the presence of DEC in 7.8% of the samples, in which ETEC was most common (47.7%) followed by EAEC (38.4%) and EPEC (13.9%). About 54% cases were due to sole DEC infections. Majority of the mixed DEC infections was caused by the Vibrio spp. (19.1%) followed by Rotavirus (14.1%) and Campylobacter spp. (8.4%). ETEC and EAEC were associated significantly with diarrhea in children <5 years of age, whereas EPEC and also ETEC were prevalent in patients aged between 5 and 14 years. AMR profile showed high prevalence of multidrug resistance (MDR) among DEC (56.9%) in which 9% were resistant to antibiotics of six different antimicrobial classes. Screening of the AMR conferring genes of DEC showed the presence of bla (30.2%) in highest number followed by bla (27.5%), tetB (18%), sul2 (12.6%), strA (11.8%), aadA1 (9.8%), bla (9%), dfrA1 (1.6%) and bla (1.2%).
These findings highlighted the high prevalence of MDR in major DEC pathotypes that could be considered as the leading etiologic bacterial agent responsible for diarrhea and suggests a significant public health threat.
The results of this study can help to improve the understanding of the epidemiology of DEC infections in patients with diarrhea. Monitoring of AMR surveillance needs special attention because the DEC isolates were highly resistant to commonly used antimicrobials in the treatment of diarrhea.

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