QREC-risk - Quinolone resistant Escherichia coli in Norwegian poultry and their impact on humans

Antimicrobial resistance has been recognized by the WHO as a global threat to public health.

Fluoroquinolones are considered one of the critically important antimicrobial agents that are to be reserved for treatment of bacterial infections in humans. 

Food contaminated with resistant bacteria may play an important role in human acquisition of resistant bacteria. Therefore, in-depth knowledge about QREC and their epidemiology is crucial for making accountable choices through the whole supply chain, and can form a basis for correct recommendations to the consumers with regard to possible acquisition of QREC from an animal reservoir.

After the implementation of a selective detection method in the Norwegian monitoring program for antimicrobial resistance in the veterinary sector (NORM-VET), it has been shown that quinolone resistant bacteria are present at low levels in a high proportion of samples from poultry and poultry meat.

The QREC-risk project aims to determine what impact Norwegian poultry may have as a possible source for human QREC carriage and infections, whether these poultry QREC are important as human pathogenic bacteria by themselves or whether they may transfer their resistance genes to other pathogenic bacteria.

To investigate these aspects, the project characterizes QREC from poultry and compare them with QREC from humans by genome comparison. In total 200 QREC isolates, 100 from poultry and 100 from humans have been whole genome sequenced. 

The results so far show that there is considerable genetic variation among the isolates with a variety of detected sequence types, though some of these do contain both poultry and human isolates. Most of the isolates have chromosomal mutations that cause reduced susceptibility to quinolones, while some of the isolates have acquired quinolone resistance genes either in combination with chromosomal mutations or as the only resistance mechanism. The occurrence of acquired genes is in general higher in human isolates compared to poultry isolates.

Scientific partners

  • Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • University Hospital of North Norway HF
NFR Prosjekter
Antibiotikaresistens, Bakteriologi, Molekylærbiologi, Zoonoser