Escherichia coli strains isolated from 81 fecal samples from red deer (Cervus elaphus), roe deer (Capreoulus capreoulus), chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) and alpine marmot (Marmota marmota) living in the Stelvio National Park, Italy, were examined for antimicrobial resistance and production of toxic factors. Direct plating of specimens on media containing antimicrobial drugs allowed us to isolate resistant strains of E. coli from 10 of 59 (17%) specimens examined by this technique. Nine of 31 specimens from red deer (29%) contained resistant strains. Different animals were likely colonized by the same resistant strain of E. coli. Conjugative R plasmids were found in four strains isolated from the marmot, roe deer and chamois. A strain from red deer produced heat-stable enterotoxin and another strain produced both hemolysin and cytotoxic necrotizing factor. A marmot isolate produced hemolysin alone. No strains were found to produce heat-labile enterotoxin or verotoxins.
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