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ABSTRACTExtended-spectrum cephalosporin resistance (ESC-R) in Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae is a healthcare threat; high gastrointestinal carriage rates are reported from South-east Asia. Colonisation prevalence data in Cambodia are lacking. We determined gastrointestinal colonisation prevalence of ESC-resistant E. coli (ESC-R-EC) and K. pneumoniae (ESC-R-KP) in Cambodian children/adolescents and associated risk factors; characterised relevant resistance genes, their genetic contexts, and the genetic relatedness of ESC-R strains using whole genome sequencing (WGS). Faeces and questionnaire data were obtained from individuals <16 years in northwestern Cambodia, 2012. WGS of cultured ESC-R-EC/KP was performed (Illumina). Maximum likelihood phylogenies were used to characterise relatedness of isolates; ESC-R-associated resistance genes and their genetic contexts were identified from de novo assemblies using BLASTn and automated/manual annotation. 82/148 (55%) of children/adolescents were ESC-R-EC/KP colonised; 12/148 (8%) were co-colonised with both species. Independent risk factors for colonisation were hospitalisation (OR: 3.12, 95%, CI [1.52-6.38]) and intestinal parasites (OR: 3.11 [1.29-7.51]); school attendance conferred decreased risk (OR: 0.44 [0.21-0.92]. ESC-R strains were diverse; the commonest ESC-R mechanisms were blaCTX-M 1 and 9 sub-family variants. Structures flanking these genes were highly variable, and for blaCTX-M-15,-55and-27, frequently involved IS26. Chromosomal blaCTX-M integration was common in E. coli. Gastrointestinal ESC-R-EC/KP colonisation is widespread in Cambodian children/adolescents; hospital admission and intestinal parasites are independent risk factors. The genetic contexts of blaCTX-M are highly mosaic, consistent with rapid horizontal exchange. Chromosomal integration of blaCTX-M may result in stable propagation in these community-associated pathogens.

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