We report the first study on the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant enterococci in coastal bathing waters in Malaysia. One hundred and sixty-five enterococci isolates recovered from two popular recreational beaches in Malaysia were speciated and screened for antibiotic resistance to a total of eight antibiotics. Prevalence of Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium was highest in both beaches. E. faecalis/E. faecium ratio was 0.384:1 and 0.375:1, respectively, for isolates from Port Dickson (PD) and Bagan Lalang (BL). Analysis of Fisher's exact test showed that association of prevalence of E. faecalis and E. faecium with considered locations was not statistically significant (p < 0.05). Chi-square test revealed significant differences (χ(2) = 82.630, df = 20, p < 0.001) in the frequency of occurrence of enterococci isolates from the considered sites. Resistance was highest to nalidixic acid (94.84 %) and least for chloramphenicol (8.38 %). One-way ANOVA using Tukey-Kramer multiple comparison test showed that resistance to ampicillin was higher in PD beach isolates than BL isolates and the difference was extremely statistically significant (p < 0.0001). Frequency of occurrence of multiple antibiotic resistance (MAR) isolates were higher for PD beach water (64.29 %) as compared to BL beach water (13.51 %), while MAR indices ranged between 0.198 and 0.48. The results suggest that samples from Port Dickson may contain MAR bacteria and that this could be due to high-risk faecal contamination from sewage discharge pipes that drain into the sea water.
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