Detection of the plasmid-mediated colistin-resistance gene mcr-1 in faecal metagenomes of Dutch travellers

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Background: Recently, the first plasmid-mediated colistin-resistance gene, mcr-1, was reported. Colistin is increasingly used as an antibiotic of last resort for the treatment of infections caused by carbapenem-resistant bacteria, which have been rapidly disseminating worldwide in recent years. Objectives: The reported carriage rate of mcr-1 in humans remains sporadic thus far, except for those reported in Chinese populations. We aimed to determine its presence in the faecal metagenomes of healthy Dutch travellers between 2010 and 2012. Methods: Faecal metagenomic DNA of pre-and post-travel samples from 122 healthy Dutch long-distance travellers was screened for the presence of mcr-1 using a TaqMan quantitative PCR assay, which was designed in this study. All positive samples were confirmed by sequencing of the amplicons. Results: The mcr-1 gene was detected in 6 (4.9%, 95% CI = 2.1%-10.5%) of 122 healthy Dutch long-distance travellers after they had visited destinations in South(-east) Asia or southern Africa between 2011 and 2012. One of these participants was already found to be positive before travel. Conclusions: Our study highlights the potential of PCR-based targeted metagenomics as an unbiased and sensitive method to screen for the carriage of the mcr-1 gene and suggests that mcr-1 is widespread in various parts of the world. The observation that one participant was found to be positive before travel suggests that mcr-1 may already have disseminated to the microbiomes of Dutch residents at a low prevalence, warranting a more extensive investigation of its prevalence in the general population and possible sources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3416-3419
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

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