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The recently discovered colistin resistance-encoding element, , adds to the list of mobile resistance genes whose products rapidly erode the antimicrobial efficacy of not only the commonly used antibiotics, but also the last line agents of carbapenems and colistin. The relative prevalence of -bearing strains in various ecological niches including 1,371 food samples, 480 animal faecal samples, 150 human faecal samples and 34 water samples was surveyed using a novel in-house method. Bacteria bearing were commonly detected in water (71% of samples), animal faeces (51%), food products (36%), and exhibited stable carriage in 28% of human subjects surveyed. Such strains, which exhibited variable antibiotic susceptibility profiles, belonged to various Enterobacteriaceae species, with being the most dominant in each specimen type. The gene was detectable in the chromosome as well as plasmids of various sizes. Among these, two conjugative plasmids of sizes ca 33 and ca 60 kb were found to be the key vectors that mediated transmission in organisms residing in various ecological niches. The high carriage rate in humans found in this study highlights the importance of continued vigilance, careful antibiotic stewardship, and the development of new antimicrobials.


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