New York City House Mice (Mus musculus) as Potential Reservoirs for Pathogenic Bacteria and Antimicrobial Resistance Determinants
House mice (Mus musculus) thrive in large urban centers worldwide. Nonetheless, little is known about the role that they may play in contributing to environmental contamination with potentially pathogenic bacteria. Here, we describe the fecal microbiome of house mice with emphasis on detection of pathogenic bacteria and antimicrobial resistance genes by molecular methods. Four hundred sixteen mice were collected from predominantly residential buildings in seven sites across New York City over a period of 13 months. 16S rRNA sequencing identified Bacteroidetes as dominant and revealed high levels of Proteobacteria. A targeted PCR screen of 11 bacteria, as indicated by 16S rRNA analyses, found that mice are carriers of several gastrointestinal disease-causing agents, including Shigella, Salmonella, Clostridium difficile, and diarrheagenic Escherichia coli. Furthermore, genes mediating antimicrobial resistance to fluoroquinolones (qnrB) and β-lactam drugs (blaSHV and blaACT/MIR) were widely distributed. Culture and molecular strain typing of C. difficile revealed that mice harbor ribotypes associated with human disease, and screening of kidney samples demonstrated genetic evidence of pathogenic Leptospira species. In concert, these findings support the need for further research into the role of house mice as potential reservoirs for human pathogens and antimicrobial resistance in the built environment.
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