The spread of antibiotic resistance among bacterial strains has been associated with consumption of food contaminated with both pathogenic and nonpathogenic bacteria. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of antibiotic resistant Escherichia coli isolates in local and imported retail raw chicken meat in Qatar. A total of 270 locally produced (chilled) and imported (chilled or frozen) whole chicken carcasses were obtained from three Hypermarket stores in Qatar. The 216 E. coli isolates recovered from the chicken samples were subjected to antibiotic susceptibility testing with the disk diffusion method. Extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL) production was evaluated with the double disk synergy test. Isolates harboring colistin resistance were identified with a multiplex PCR assay and DNA sequencing. Nearly 89% (192) of the 216 isolates were resistant to at least one of the 18 antibiotics tested. Isolates from local and imported chicken carcasses had relatively higher resistance to sulfamethoxazole (62% of isolates), tetracycline (59.7%), ampicillin and trimethoprim (52.3% each), ciprofloxacin (47.7%), cephalothin (45.4%), and colistin (31.9%). Less resistance was found to amoxicillin–clavulanic acid (6%), ceftriaxone (5.1%), nitrofurantoin (4.2%), piperacillin-tazobactam (4.2%), cefepime (2.3%), meropenem (1.4%), ertapenem (0.9%), and amikacin (0.9%). Nine isolates (4.2%) were ESBL producers, and 137 (63.4%) were multidrug resistant. The percentages of multidrug-resistant, ESBL-producing, and colistin resistant isolates were significantly higher among isolates from local chilled than from imported chilled and frozen chicken samples. Our findings indicate the high prevalence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli in chicken meat sold at retail in Qatar.
- A high prevalence of antibiotic resistant E. coli was found in retail chicken in Qatar.
- Multidrug resistance was observed in 63.4% of the E. coli isolates.
- Colistin resistance was observed in 31.9% of the E. coli isolates.
- Contamination of chicken meat with antibiotic-resistant E. coli is a public health concern.