Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Quinolone resistance in Escherichia coli from Accra, Ghana

Sreela S Namboodiri13, Japheth A Opintan2, Rebeccah S Lijek14, Mercy J Newman2 and Iruka N Okeke1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology, Haverford College, Haverford, PA 19041, USA

2 Department of Microbiology, University of Ghana Medical School, Accra, Ghana

3 University of Maryland Medical School, 655 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA

4 Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine 3610 Hamilton Walk Philadelphia, PA 19104-6076, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Microbiology 2011, 11:44  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-44

Published: 27 February 2011



Antimicrobial resistance is under-documented and commensal Escherichia coli can be used as indicator organisms to study the resistance in the community. We sought to determine the prevalence of resistance to broad-spectrum antimicrobials with particular focus on the quinolones, which have recently been introduced in parts of Africa, including Ghana.


Forty (13.7%) of 293 E. coli isolates evaluated were nalidixic acid-resistant. Thirteen (52%) of 2006 and 2007 isolates and 10 (66.7%) of 2008 isolates were also resistant to ciprofloxacin. All but one of the quinolone-resistant isolates were resistant to three or more other antimicrobial classes. Sequencing the quinolone-resistance determining regions of gyrA and parC, which encode quinolone targets, revealed that 28 quinolone-resistant E. coli harboured a substitution at position 83 of the gyrA gene product and 20 of these isolates had other gyrA and/or parC substitutions. Horizontally-acquired quinolone-resistance genes qnrB1, qnrB2, qnrS1 or qepA were detected in 12 of the isolates. In spite of considerable overall diversity among E. coli from Ghana, as evaluated by multilocus sequence typing, 15 quinolone-resistant E. coli belonged to sequence type complex 10. Five of these isolates carried qnrS1 alleles.


Quinolone-resistant E. coli are commonly present in the faecal flora of Accra residents. The isolates have evolved resistance through multiple mechanisms and belong to very few lineages, suggesting clonal expansion. Containment strategies to limit the spread of quinolone-resistant E. coli need to be deployed to conserve quinolone effectiveness and promote alternatives to their use.