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The prevalence of quinolone- and -lactam-resistant E. coli was investigated among healthy broiler flocks in Denmark and Italy. In Denmark, sock samples were collected from 10 parent flocks and 10 offspring flocks, according to the procedure currently used for the surveillance of Salmonella in the EU. Samples were enriched in McConkey broth and streaked on McConkey agar plates added with nalidixic acid (32 g/ml), ciprofloxacin (2 g/ml), ampicillin (32 g/ml), cefotaxime (2 g/ml) or ceftiofur (8 g/ml). The -glucuronidase test was performed for verification of presumptive E. coli. The same methods were used to analyse sock samples collected from 6 Italian broiler flocks. PCR with primers for the CTX-M-type extended-spectrum -lactamases (ESBLs) was performed on cephalosporin-resistant isolates. While resistance to ampicillin and nalidixic acid was widespread in both countries, resistance to ciprofloxacin and cephalosporins was more common among Italian flocks. In Denmark, ciprofloxacin resistance was only detected in 1 parent flock without any history of quinolone usage and none of the flocks was positive for cephalosporin-resistant E. coli. In Italy, resistance to ciprofloxacin was detected in all flocks and resistance to ceftiofur and cefotaxime were detected in 5 flocks. Primers specific for the CTX-M-type ESBLs generated PCR amplicons from isolates from 3 of these flocks. In industrialized countries, the poultry production system is highly standardized, and therefore comparable. However, the use of broad-spectrum antimicrobials is particularly limited in Danish poultry production. Accordingly, the results of this study could reflect the different policies in antimicrobial usage between the two countries.
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