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Multiple antibiotic resistance (MAR) was performed on 128 Escherichia coli isolates, recovered from faecal samples of humans and animals (cattle, goat, sheep) to determine and compare their antibiotic resistance patterns and to evaluate them statistically in order to specify the source of the faecal material.Disk diffusion method was applied with a selection of antibiotics. Statistical approach was performed with hierarchical cluster analysis (CA), discriminant analysis (DA) and principal component analysis. Comparing human and animal isolates there was significant difference in levels of resistance to all antibiotics tested (P < 0·05) with 46 and 24 distinct resistance patterns for human and animal isolates respectively. CA and DA separated human and animal isolates with a high average rate of correct classification (99·2%), when all animal isolates were pooled together.MAR analysis compared with appropriate statistical evaluation may provide a useful tool for differentiating the human or animal origin of E. coli isolates derived from environmental samples. Subsequently, determination of the source of faecal pollution becomes possible.Determining the source of faecal pollution enables the prediction of possible risk for public health and the application of appropriate management plans for prevention of further contamination.