Risk factors for extended-spectrum betalactamase (ESBL)-producing E. coli carriage among children in a food animal-producing region of Ecuador: A repeated measures observational study

Heather K. Amato, Fernanda Loayza, Liseth Salinas, Diana Paredes, Daniela Garcia, Soledad Sarzosa, Carlos Saraiva-Garcia, Timothy J. Johnson, Amy J. Pickering, Lee W. Riley, Gabriel Trueba, Jay P. Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria may be driven by human-animal-environment interactions, especially in regions with limited restrictions on antibiotic use, widespread food animal production, and free-roaming domestic animals. In this study, we aimed to identify risk factors related to commercial food animal production, small-scale or "backyard" food animal production, domestic animal ownership, and practices related to animal handling, waste disposal, and antibiotic use in Ecuadorian communities.

METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted a repeated measures study from 2018 to 2021 in 7 semirural parishes of Quito, Ecuador to identify determinants of third-generation cephalosporin-resistant E. coli (3GCR-EC) and extended-spectrum beta-lactamase E. coli (ESBL-EC) in children. We collected 1,699 fecal samples from 600 children and 1,871 domestic animal fecal samples from 376 of the same households at up to 5 time points per household over the 3-year study period. We used multivariable log-binomial regression models to estimate relative risks (RR) of 3GCR-EC and ESBL-EC carriage, adjusting for child sex and age, caregiver education, household wealth, and recent child antibiotic use. Risk factors for 3GCR-EC included living within 5 km of more than 5 commercial food animal operations (RR: 1.26; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.10, 1.45; p-value: 0.001), household pig ownership (RR: 1.23; 95% CI: 1.02, 1.48; p-value: 0.030) and child pet contact (RR: 1.23; 95% CI: 1.09, 1.39; p-value: 0.001). Risk factors for ESBL-EC were dog ownership (RR: 1.35; 95% CI: 1.00, 1.83; p-value: 0.053), child pet contact (RR: 1.54; 95% CI: 1.10, 2.16; p-value: 0.012), and placing animal feces on household land/crops (RR: 1.63; 95% CI: 1.09, 2.46; p-value: 0.019). The primary limitations of this study are the use of proxy and self-reported exposure measures and the use of a single beta-lactamase drug (ceftazidime with clavulanic acid) in combination disk diffusion tests for ESBL confirmation, potentially underestimating phenotypic ESBL production among cephalosporin-resistant E. coli isolates. To improve ESBL determination, it is recommended to use 2 combination disk diffusion tests (ceftazidime with clavulanic acid and cefotaxime with clavulanic acid) for ESBL confirmatory testing. Future studies should also characterize transmission pathways by assessing antibiotic resistance in commercial food animals and environmental reservoirs.

CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we observed an increase in enteric colonization of antibiotic-resistant bacteria among children with exposures to domestic animals and their waste in the household environment and children living in areas with a higher density of commercial food animal production operations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1004299
JournalPLoS Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - 13 Oct 2023


  • Animals
  • Child
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents/pharmacology
  • Bacteria
  • beta-Lactamases/metabolism
  • Ceftazidime
  • Cephalosporins
  • Clavulanic Acid
  • Ecuador/epidemiology
  • Escherichia coli
  • Risk Factors
  • Swine
  • Male
  • Female


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