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DAVID Burch (VR, November 28, 2015, vol 177, pp 549-550) questions whether the transfer of resistance plasmids from farm animal to human Escherichia coli is of any ‘real significance’ and asks if the bacteria which receive the resistance genes cause disease in people.
Yes – some E coli causing infections in humans have cephalosporin-resistance plasmids which are virtually identical to plasmids carried by genetically unrelated farm animal E coli.
In our response (VR, November 7, 2015, vol 177, pp 468-469) to his earlier letter (VR, September 19, 2015, vol 177, pp 292-293), we cited Dutch research which used whole-genome sequencing methods to show that genetically unrelated E coli from human and animal sources carried apparently identical or nearly identical plasmids (IncI1- and IncK types) conferring cephalosporin resistance (de Been and others 2014). Most of the human isolates were from clinical cases and …
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