The objectives of the present study are to generate knowledge of the ecology and epidemiology of enterococci in the food chain by studying the following: (1) the population structure (in measures of abundance, number of vancomycin resistant strains,antibiotic resistance patterns, diversity, and stability) among enterococcal populations in different geographical regions and in different links of the food chain (2) possible transmission of strains through the food chain and between hospital environments and the food chain (3) the association between vancomycin resistance and individual strains of enterococci and (4) the diversity of the drug resistance genes in enterococci. So far, 1578 samples have been collected from different countries within the EU\ud (Sweden, Denmark, UK and Spain), and from different habitats (pig farms, carcasses in slaughter houses, soil, manure, water, sewage, and humans). Total and vancomycin resistant enterococcal populations in each sample have been enumerated and more than 12 000 isolates have been characterised by phenotyping. Representative isolates are further species identified and characterised by genotyping and MIC determination and from antibiotic resistant isolates the resistance genes are characterised
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