Production Practices Effect Antimicrobial Resistance in Poultry
May 15, 2006 - 5:26:37 PM

The use of conventional versus organic production practices can significantly affect the prevalence of antibiotic resistant to bacteria in poultry say researchers from Maryland and Ohio. Their findings appear in the May 2006 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Campylobacter is one of the leading causes of food-borne illnesses worldwide, causing more than 2 million cases of bacterial diarrhea each year in the U.S. alone. Although most Campylobacter infections in humans are attributed to ingestion of contaminated foods, consumption of undercooked poultry or foods cross-contaminated with raw poultry meat also pose a major risk of campylobacteriosis. With incidences of food-borne illness on the rise, experts are also seeing an increase in antimicrobial resistance among the Campylobacter species. Currently, 19 to 40% of Campylobacter strains isolated in humans are resistant to ciproflaxin and this is attributed in part to the widespread use of antimicrobial agents in humans and animals.

In the study, researchers compared Campylobacter from the intestinal tracts of broilers and turkeys from conventional farms where antibiotics were routinely used and organic farms where antibiotics had never been used. A total of 694 Campylobacter isolates were tested for resistance to nine antibiotic agents. Researchers found that although Campylobacter species were dominant in both poultry operations, there was a significant difference in antibiotic resistance with a rate of less than 2% from organically raised poultry and 46 to 67% resistance from conventionally raised broilers and turkeys.

"This study revealed significant differences in antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter isolates between conventional poultry operations and organic poultry operations," say the researchers. "These results suggest that the practice of antibiotic usage in conventional poultry production systems influence the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter organisms in conventionally raised broilers and turkeys."

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