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Captive Snakes from Brazil as Carriers of Multidrug-Resistant Enterococci

Author(s): Juliana Moraes da Silva Heck, Janira Prichula, Rosana Huff, Roberto Baptista de Oliveira, Thiago Silva-Soares, Jeverson Frazzon, Ana Paula Guedes Frazzon

Brazil has one of the most diverse herpetofauna and snakebites are an important health issue. The oral cavity of snakes harbored a wide range of bacteria. Enterococci have been isolated from animals, however, few studies have taken in snakes. In this sense, the present study aimed to evaluate Entero-coccus spp. and their virulence attributes including antimicrobial resistance in oral cavities of healthy snake species in Brazil. Oral swabs from wild and captive snakes were screened for enterococci distri-bution, antimicrobial susceptibility, resistance and virulence genes, and CRISPRs elements by PCR. Overall, 116 enterococci were detected and Enterococcus faecalis was dominant in all snake species, followed by E. faecium, E. avium, and E. hirae. Interestingly, no resistant enterococci were detected in wild snakes. In contrast, captive snakes were found to be carriers of resistant strains, including resistance to erythromycin, rifampicin, norfloxacin, ciprofloxacin, and tetracycline. Enterococcus faecium (50%) and E. faecalis (15.78%) isolates were multi-drug-resistant. Erythromycin resistance genes, the msrC and ermB, were detected in 13.33% and 6.67% of the isolates, respectively. The tetM (70%), tetL (30%) and tetS (10%) genes were detected in the tetracycline-resistant strains. Among the virulence genes, gelE was the most frequent in all strains. CRISPR1-cas, orphan CRISPR2, and CRISPR3-cas elements were present in 16.03%, 15.79%, and 18.31% of the isolates, respectively. No antibiotic resistance was associated with CRISPRs. In conclusion, resistant enterococci in captive snakes are the result of confinement, antibiotic therapy and human contact. Resistant bacteria in captive snakes provide crucial information about public health safety.

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