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Antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli is a global health concern. We studied all possible routes of cross contamination of broiler meat with resistant E. coli from broiler feces at poultry shops. Various sample categories namely poultry feces, meat (n=225 for each), slaughterer hands, consumer hands, slaughterer knife, canister, tap water, carcass, feed and drinking water (n=50 for each) were collected from local poultry processing market. Samples were screened for prevalence of E. coli, resistance of isolates against ten antibiotics and presence of tetracycline- resistance genes in the isolates. Fecal samples had greatest colony count (4.1×104 CFU/g) as compared to meat (1.9×104 CFU/g) samples. Samples of consumer hands (6%) and tap water (12%) had less prevalence percentages of E. coli as compared to slaughterer hands (92%) and drinking water of broiler (86%). Isolates of eight sample categories had high resistant rate (≥90%) against oxytetracycline. On average, about 94% of the isolates from various sample categories possessed multidrug-resistance (MDR). Tetracycline-resistance genes (tetA and tetB) were identified in all sample categories except isolates of consumer hands and tap water. The distribution of tetracycline-resistance genes was significantly greater in fecal isolates (42%) than meat isolates (25%). The study depicted the spread of resistant E. coli in broiler meat through all studied routes of contamination of slaughtering periphery. This problem can be mitigated by strict monitoring of antibiotics use at poultry farms, prevention of cross contamination by adopting hygienic slaughter and vigorously screening the market meat for resistant E. coli.
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