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Prevalence of antibiotic resistant Escherichia coli isolates from fecal samples of food handlers in Qatar.


It is well documented that food handlers harbor and shed enteric foodborne pathogens causing foodborne disease outbreaks. However, little known on enteric antibiotic resistant (AR) bacteria carriage in food handlers. The objective of this study was to establish a baseline prevalence of fecal AR among food handlers in Qatar. Fecal samples were collected from 456 migrant food handlers of different nationalities arriving in Qatar on a work permit between January 2015 and December 2016. These samples (25 g each) were collected based on the availability and examination schedule at the Medical Commission facility from those consented to participate. Isolated bacteria were tested for antibiotic susceptibility against nine antibiotics using the E-test method and Double Disc Synergy Test (DDST) for extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) production. From the 78 positive samples (17.1%,  = 456), 60% of the isolates were resistant to at least one antibiotic, whereas, 27% were multi-drug resistant (MDR). Seven isolates (9%,  = 78) were ESBL producers of which five were MDR. Individual AR frequencies to the nine antibiotics were not significantly ( > 0.05) different by nationality. Based on our findings, we revealed that individual resistant and MDR resistant were common in fecal samples of food handlers in Qatar. This may indicate that food handlers can potentially contaminate foods with AR , a possible public health concern.