The aim of this study was to analyze the beta-lactamases and the molecular epidemiology of 19 clinically significant isolates of Proteus mirabilis with decreased susceptibility to imipenem, which have been collected from seven hospitals, located in different Bulgarian towns (Sofia, Varna, and Pleven). The isolates were obtained from blood, urine, tracheal and wound specimens. One additional isolate from hospital environment was included. Susceptibility testing, conjugation experiments, and plasmid replicon typing were carried out. Beta-lactamases were characterized by isoelectric focusing, PCR, and sequencing. Clonal relatedness was investigated by RAPD and PFGE. Integron mapping was performed by PCR and sequencing. All isolates showed a multidrug-resistance profile, but remained susceptible to piperacillin/tazobactam, cefepime, meropenem, and fosfomycin. They produced identical beta-lactamases, namely: TEM-1, VIM-1, and CMY-99. PCR mapping revealed that the blaVIM-1 gene was part of a class 1 integron that additionally included the aac(6')-I, dhfrA1, and ant(3″)-Ia genes. In addition, 17 of the isolates carried the armA gene. Conjugation experiments and plasmid replicon typing were unsuccessful. The isolates were clonally related according to RAPD and PFGE typing. This study reveals the nationwide distribution of a multidrug-resistant P. mirabilis clone producing VIM-1 and CMY-99 along with the presence of different aminoglycoside resistance mechanisms.
Keywords: Bulgaria; CMY; Proteus mirabilis; VIM; class 1 integron; clone.