Resistance to antibiotics of clinical relevance in the fecal microbiota of Mexican wildlife

PLoS One. 2014 Sep 18;9(9):e107719. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107719. eCollection 2014.


There are a growing number of reports of antibiotic resistance (ATBR) in bacteria living in wildlife. This is a cause for concern as ATBR in wildlife represents a potential public health threat. However, little is known about the factors that might determine the presence, abundance and dispersion of ATBR bacteria in wildlife. Here, we used culture and molecular methods to assess ATBR in bacteria in fecal samples from howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata), spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi), tapirs (Tapirus bairdii) and felids (jaguars, Panthera onca; pumas, Puma concolor; jaguarundis, Puma yagouaroundi; and ocelots, Leopardus pardalis) living freely in two regions of the Mexican state of Veracruz under different degrees of human influence. Overall, our study shows that ATBR is commonplace in bacteria isolated from wildlife in southeast Mexico. Most of the resistances were towards old and naturally occurring antibiotics, but we also observed resistances of potential clinical significance. We found that proximity to humans positively affected the presence of ATBR and that ATBR was higher in terrestrial than arboreal species. We also found evidence suggesting different terrestrial and aerial routes for the transmission of ATBR between humans and wildlife. The prevalence and potential ATBR transfer mechanisms between humans and wildlife observed in this study highlight the need for further studies to identify the factors that might determine ATBR presence, abundance and distribution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alouatta
  • Animals
  • Atelinae
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial*
  • Enterobacter / drug effects*
  • Enterobacter / genetics*
  • Enterobacter / isolation & purification
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Felidae
  • Mexico
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Monkey Diseases / microbiology*
  • Puma

Grants and funding

The authors acknowledge the National Council of Science of Technology (CONACYT) in Mexico and the Veracruz State Government for providing partial financial support to JCA (Grant Number 108990). JCD was supported by grants from the Isaac Newton Trust and The Cambridge Humanities Research Grant Scheme. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.