Virulence, resistance, and genetic relatedness of Escherichia coli and Klebsiella sp. isolated from mule foals

ABSTRACT Respiratory diseases are common in young horses but little is known about such infections in mule foals. This study aimed to characterize Escherichia coli and Klebsiella sp. isolated from tracheal wash (TW) and fecal samples (FS) of mule foals, with or without cytological evidence of respiratory disease. Strains were analyzed against 13 antimicrobials, for presence of Extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL), and virulence genes. Phylogrouping and Randomic (RAPD)-PCR profiles were used to evaluate their genetic relatedness. E. coli strains from TW and FS showed greatest resistance to tetracycline, while Klebsiella strains were mainly resistant to ampicillin; multidrug resistance and ESBL production were also detected. The blaCTX gene prevailed among the E. coli isolates, while the blaSHV gene was more frequently found in K. pneumoniae. The fimH gene was detected in most of the isolates and multiple virulence factors were identified in three E. coli isolates. Most of the E. coli isolates belonged to the B1 phylogroup, but B2 strains displayed more virulence genes. The RAPD assay revealed genetic diversity among strains and was able to distinguish FS isolates from TW isolates. Knowledge of the bacteria associated with the respiratory tract of mule foals is important in the treatment of sick animals.