The effect of rehabilitation of northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) on antimicrobial resistance of commensal Escherichia coli

Robyn A. Stoddard, Edward R Atwill, Patricia A Conrad, Barbara A Byrne, Spencer Jang, Judy Lawrence, Brenda Mccowan, Frances M D Gulland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to determine if antimicrobial drug use increases resistance of commensal gastrointensinal Escherichia coli of wild northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) treated in rehabilitation, and, if so, identify the risk factors involved. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) levels of twelve antimicrobial drugs were determined for 289 E. coli isolates from 99 seals sampled at admission and 277 isolates obtained at release from rehabilitation using broth microdilution. Prevalence of E. coli antimicrobial resistance, MIC50, MIC90, and clustering of MIC values were determined for seals and the data were analyzed using Fisher's exact test, ordinal logistic regression and negative binomial regression. At release from rehabilitation 77.8% of the seals had antimicrobial resistant E. coli compared to 38.4% of the seals at admission. The MIC90 for amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, chloramphenicol, enrofloxacin, ticarcillin-clavulanic acid, and trimethoprim-saulfamethoxazole were at levels considered to be sensitive at admission but they increased to levels of resistance at release. E. coli were grouped into four clusters by their MIC values, with increasing levels of resistance going from Cluster 1 to 4. A primary risk factor associated with the probability of a seal having E. coli in Clusters 3 and 4 was time in rehabilitation, regardless of whether the animal received treatment with antimicrobial drugs, suggesting nosocomial infection. The results of this study provide evidence that increased levels of hygiene and appropriate use of antimicrobial therapy might be important in the rehabilitation of wild animals to prevent rise in the prevalence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-271
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 13 2009


  • Antimicrobial drug resistance
  • Escherichia coli
  • Mirounga angustirostris
  • Northern elephant seal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of rehabilitation of northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) on antimicrobial resistance of commensal Escherichia coli'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this