Antibiotic resistance in bacteria is a growing problem in both human and veterinary medicine. Several studies documented the presence of resistant bacteria in humans, livestock, and domestic animals; however, limited research is available on the presence of antibiotic drug resistance in wildlife species. A cross-sectional study was conducted to estimate the prevalence of resistant bacteria collected from wild-caught, marine predatory fishes. Seven species of sharks and a single teleost species were opportunistically sampled from six different study sites in coastal Belize, coastal and nearshore waters of Louisiana, the Florida Keys, and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. A total of 134 viable bacteria samples were isolated from the cloacal swabs of predatory fishes. Isolates were characterized by Gram-stain morphology and tested for resistance by using the Kirby-Bauer disc diffusion method. Thirteen drugs (penicillin G, piperacillin, ticarcillin, cefotaxime, ceftazidime, ceftiofur, amikacin, gentamicin, ciprofloxacin, enrofloxacin, doxycycline, chloramphenicol, and sulfamethoxazole) were selected for this study. Prevalence was calculated as the total number of isolates resistant to one or more drugs against the total number of samples in that study area or fish population. Sharks sampled in the Florida Keys exhibited the greatest resistance to a wide selection of drugs. Resistance to at least one drug was found in each of the six study sites and in all of the fish species sampled. Multidrug resistance was also documented in most of the study sites. Interspecific comparisons between redfish, Sciaenops ocellata, and sharks from Louisiana offshore waters (which represent species of the Carcharhinus genus) demonstrated a significantly higher prevalence in redfish, which may be because of the older age of the population. The findings of this study confirmed the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in marine predatory fishes from multiple taxa and multiple geographic locations.
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