Infections caused by multi-drug resistant Escherichia coli cause significant morbidity and mortality especially in developing countries. In this study, we describe the molecular characteristics of E. coli isolated from clinical specimens and the patients’ outcomes. Phenotypic methods were used in the identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing of E. coli from clinical specimens from a tertiary hospital in Abuja, Nigeria. Whole genome sequencing was used to describe the antimicrobial resistance genes, serotypes, sequence types/clonal complexes, and mobile genetic elements. The mean age of the patients was 20.3 years with 70.1% females and majority of isolates 75% from urine, 21% from blood cultures, and 3% each from cerebrospinal fluid and endo-cervical swabs. Of the 107 non-duplicate E. coli isolates, 101 (94.3%) were resistant to ampicillin, 95 (88.8%) to trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, 86 (80.4%) to ceftriaxone, 60 (56.1%) to gentamicin, and eight (7.5%) to meropenem. There were 102 (95.3%) isolates that were multi-drug resistant (MDR). Expression of Extended Spectrum Beta Lactamase (ESBL) phenotype was detected in 54 (50%) and blaCTX-M-15 genes detected in 75 (70.1%) isolates. The carbapenemase genes blaNDM-1 and blaNDM-5 were detected in six (5.6%), while the AmpC gene- blaCMY-2, was detected in seven (6.5%) isolates. Two (1.9%) isolates simultaneously harboured the blaOXA-1, blaCMY-2, blaCTX-M-15, and blaNDM-5 genes. In total, 35 sequence types (STs) were found with the majority being ST131 (n = 23; 21.5%). The most common serotype was O25:H4 associated with all 23 strains of ST131, followed by O1:H6/ST648 (n = 6). The ST410, ST671, and ST101 strains displayed phenotypic resistance to wide array of antibiotic classes and harbored high numbers of antibiotic resistance genes via in-silico analysis. The ST410 strain in particular harbored a higher number of antibiotic resistance genes and was phenotypically resistant to a wider array of antibiotics. Four pairs of isolates were closely related with three isolates (ST131, ST38, ST652) having a pairwise SNP difference of zero. 71/72 75/76 52/14. The MDR E. coli lineages circulating in this setting pose a clinical and public health threat as they can hinder effective prevention and management of infections. The genetic diversity and MDR E. coli with the emergence of ST410 and ST101 clones is concerning because of the potential for rapid dissemination in hospitals and communities- further increasing the problems of antibiotic resistance. Continuous routine surveillance of E. coli infections for AMR in hospitals becomes imperative, aimed at development of effective antimicrobial stewardship programs, facilitating prudent use of antimicrobial agents, and limiting dissemination of resistant strains.
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