Wild birds inhabit in a wide variety of environments and can travel great distances. Thus, wild birds can possibly spread antimicrobial resistance along the way, and this may represent a potential public health concern. We characterized antimicrobial resistance in fecal Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecalis in wild raptors in the southeastern US. Cloacal samples were collected from 118 wild raptors of 17 species from 18 counties in Alabama and 15 counties in Georgia. A total of 112 E. coli and 76 E. faecalis isolates were recovered, and we found significantly more antimicrobial-resistant E. coli (20/112, 18%) than E. faecalis (6/76, 8%; P=0.05). Five antimicrobialresistant genes: blaTEM-1, blaCTX-M-1, tet(M), cmlA, cat, and gyrA, were identified in antimicrobial-resistant E. coli isolates. Five of 13 (38%) ampicillin-resistant E. coli harbored both bla-TEM-1 and blaCTX-M-1 genes, indicating they are extended-spectrum β-lactamase–carrying strains. Both of the tetracycline resistance genes, tet(M) and tet(L), were identified in E. faecalis isolates. Wild raptors seem to be a reservoir host of antimicrobial-resistant E. coli and E. faecalis and may represent a hazard to animal and human health by transmission of these isolates.
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Vol. 55 • No. 2