Urban dust fecal pollution in Mexico City: antibiotic resistance and virulence factors of Escherichia coli

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2006 Sep;209(5):461-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2006.03.007. Epub 2006 Jun 9.


Fecal pollution of settled dust samples from indoor and outdoor urban environments, was measured and characterized by the presence of fecal coliforms (FC), and by the characterization of Escherichia coli virulence genes, adherence and antibiotic resistance traits as markers. There were more FC indoors than outdoors (mean values 1089 and 435MPN/g). Among indoor samples, there were more FC in houses with carpets and/or pets. Using a PCR-based assay for six enteropathogenicity genes (belonging to the EAEC, EHEC and EPEC pathotypes) on randomly selected E. coli isolates, there was no significant difference between isolates from indoors and outdoors (60% and 72% positive to at least one gene). The serotypes commonly associated with pathogenic strains, such as O86 and O28, were found in the indoor isolates; whereas O4, O66 and O9 were found amongst outdoor isolates. However, there were significantly more outdoor isolates resistant to at least one antibiotic (73% vs. 45% from indoors) among the strains positive for virulence factors, and outdoor isolates were more commonly multiresistant. There was no relationship between the presence of virulence genes and resistance traits. These results indicate that outdoor fecal bacteria were more likely from human sources, and those found indoors were related to pets and maintained in carpets. This study illustrates the risk posed by fecal bacteria from human sources, usually bearing virulence and resistance traits. Furthermore, the high prevalence of strains carrying genes associated to EAEC or EHEC pathotypes, in both indoor and outdoor environments, adds to the health risk.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Dust* / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants* / analysis
  • Escherichia coli* / classification
  • Escherichia coli* / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli* / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • Mexico
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Urban Population
  • Virulence


  • Dust
  • Environmental Pollutants