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Airborne antibiotic resistance genes in Hong Kong kindergartens

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number114009
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/05/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Environmental Pollution
Number of pages9
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date21/01/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) have become a critical global public health issue in this century. There is increasing evidence for the presence and transmission of ARGs by air transmission. In this research, ARGs and ARB in air conditioner filter dust (AC dust) and urine samples from 55 kindergarten children in 17 kindergartens and nearby 10 soil samples in Hong Kong were analyzed. The results showed the presence of 16 ARG subtypes and the mobile genetic element (MGE) intI1 in AC dust, and 12 ARG subtypes in the soil samples. ARGs presenting resistance to sulfonamide (6.9 × 10−3–0.17) (expressed as relative abundance of the 16 S rRNA genes) were most abundant followed by macrolides (1.8 × 10−3–3.3 × 10−2), sul1, sul2 (sulfonamide), ermF (macrolides) and intI1 genes in AC dust in 17 kindergartens. For soil samples, 12 ARG subtypes and the intI1 were detected, and the genes providing resistance to sulfonamide (1.6 × 10−3–2.7 × 10−1) were the most abundant ARGs in the 10 soil samples, followed by tetracycline (ND–1.4 × 10−2). Multi-resistant bacteria with sul1, sul2, intI1, or tetQ were detected in all AC dust samples and some urine samples. Based on bacterial genera and ARG co-occurrence network analysis and Hong Kong’s special geographical location and cultural environment, there might be two origins for the ARGs detected in the kindergartens: β-lactam/macrolide ARGs mainly derived from human medicine use and tetracycline/sulfonamide ARGs mainly from other areas, as well as IntI1 may play a role in the spread of ARGs in Hong Kong. The widely detection of ARGs in AC dust in kindergartens in Hong Kong highlights the need for the improvement of management measures.