The environmental spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been recognised as a growing public health threat for which hospitals play a significant role. The aims of this study were to investigate the prevalence of antibiotic resistance and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in Escherichia coli isolates from hospital wastewater in Vietnam. Wastewater samples before and after treatment were collected using continuous sampling every month over a year. Standard disk diffusion and E-test were used for antibiotic susceptibility testing. Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) production was tested using combined disk diffusion. ARGs were detected by polymerase chain reactions. Resistance to at least one antibiotic was detected in 83% of isolates; multidrug resistance was found in 32%. The highest resistance prevalence was found for co-trimoxazole (70%) and the lowest for imipenem (1%). Forty-three percent of isolates were ESBL-producing, with the blaTEM gene being more common than blaCTX-M. Co-harbouring of the blaCTX-M, blaTEM and qepA genes was found in 46% of isolates resistant to ciprofloxacin. The large presence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli isolates combined with ARGs in hospital wastewater, even post-treatment, poses a threat to public health. It highlights the need to develop effective processes for hospital wastewater treatment plants to eliminate antibiotic resistant bacteria and ARGs.
Keywords: antibiotic resistance; antibiotic resistance genes; blaCTX-M; blaTEM; hospital wastewater; qepA.