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The rapid dissemination of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales (CPE) is a major public health concern. The role that the aquatic environment plays in this dissemination is underexplored. This study aimed to examine seawater as a reservoir for CPE. Seawater sampling took place at a bathing site throughout the 2017 bathing season. Each 30 L sample (n = 6) was filtered using the CapE filtration system. Wastewater samples (200 mL) (pre-treatment (n = 3) and post-treatment (n = 3)) were obtained from a nearby secondary wastewater treatment plant, during the same time period. All samples were examined for CPE. Whole genome sequencing of confirmed CPE was carried out using Illumina sequencing. Isolate genomes were hosted in corresponding BIGSdb databases and analyses were performed using multiple web-based tools. CPE was detected in 2/6 seawater samples. It was not detected in any wastewater samples. OXA-48-like-producing ST131 Escherichia coli (Ec_BM707) was isolated from a seawater sample collected in May 2017 and OXA-48-like-producing ST101 Klebsiella pneumoniae (Kp_BM758) was isolated from a seawater sample collected in August 2017. The genomes of the environmental isolates were compared to a collection of previously described Irish clinical OXA-48-like-producing Enterobacterales (n = 105). Ec_BM707 and Kp_BM758 harboured blaOXA-48 on similar mobile genetic elements to those identified in the clinical collection (pOXA-48 fragment in Ec_BM707 and IncL(pOXA-48) plasmid in Kp_BM758). Genetic similarities were observed between Ec_BM707 and several of the clinical ST131 E. coli, with allele matches at up to 98.2% of 2513 core genome multilocus sequence type (cgMLST) loci. In contrast, Kp_BM758 and the 34 clinical K. pneumoniae were genetically distant. The source of the CPE at this site was not identified. The detection of OXA-48-like-producing ST131 E. coli and OXA-48-like-producing ST101 K. pneumoniae in Irish recreational water is a concern. The potential for contamination of the aquatic environment to contribute to dissemination of CPE in Europe warrants further study.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci Total Environ

Publication Date





1 - 6


Antimicrobial resistance, Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales, Recreational water, Enterobacteriaceae, Environmental Monitoring, Recreation, Water Microbiology, beta-Lactamases