Prevalence of β-haemolytic multi-drug resistant E. coli in cow and camel milk in Kenya

  • Samuel M. NatoEmail author
  • Joseph W. Matofari
  • Bockline O. Bebe
  • Christian Huelsebusch
Research Article


The aim of this study was to find the prevalence of β-haemolytic Escherichia coli in milk, as well as their sources, and their sensitivity to antibiotics. E. coli was isolated from samples of cow and camel milk, cow and camel udder surfaces, and milking persons’ hands. The organisms were identified using API20E biochemical kit. Haemolytic activity was tested on 7% defibrinated sheep blood agar while antibiotic sensitivity was tested using the Kirby-Bauer disc diffusion method. The prevalence of β-haemolytic isolates from cow and camel milk was 25% and 32% respectively. None of the isolates from the udder swabs, the milking persons’ hands, or water was β-haemolytic. In cow milk, the prevalence of isolates resistant to Ampicillin, Cefotaxime, and Cefepime was 25, 37.5 and 12.5% respectively, while in camel milk it was 52.4, 23.8 and 28.6% respectively. Prevalence of β-haemolytic and multidrug resistant isolates to the three antibiotics was 12.5% for cow milk and 19% for camel milk. None of the isolates was resistant to Ciprofloxacin, Piperacillin/Tozobactam, Amikacin, and Imipenem. The prevalence of E. coli resistant to Cefotaxime and Cefepime indicates growing resistance of the microorganisms to drugs that are supposed to be effective against them. The presence of β-haemolytic isolates in milk and their absence on the animals’ udder surface and hand swabs could indicate their better survival in the udder from which they are shed into the milk. This is a public health concern especially for pastoral communities who have a preference for consumption of raw milk.


E. coli Milk Antibiotics Haemolysis Multidrug resistance 



The study was facilitated by the RELOAD project with funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the framework of GlobE initiative, Grant no. 031A247A-D. The authors wish to thank Isiolo referral hospital and University of Nairobi for allowing them to use their microbiology laboratories. The authors wish to thank Ms Bernadette Misiko, Ms Ruth Imbahale, and Mr James Mwangi for their assistance in laboratory work. Special recognition is accorded to Mr Peter Lamuka (deceased), formally of University of Nairobi for the inspiration, encouragement and advice during the course of the study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (BVL) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Dairy and Food Science and TechnologyEgerton UniversityEgertonKenya
  2. 2.Department Animal ScienceEgerton UniversityEgertonKenya
  3. 3.German Institute of Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture (DITSL)WitzenhausenGermany
  4. 4.Department of Pure and Applied SciencesTechnical University of MombasaMombasaKenya

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