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Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp. isolated from Australian meat chickens remain susceptible to critically important antimicrobial agents

Abraham, S., O’Dea, M.ORCID: 0000-0002-2757-7585, Sahibzada, S.ORCID: 0000-0001-7362-8323, Hewson, K., Pavic, A., Veltman, T., Abraham, R., Harris, T., Trott, D.J. and Jordan, D. (2019) Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp. isolated from Australian meat chickens remain susceptible to critically important antimicrobial agents. PLoS ONE, 14 (10). e0224281.

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The World Health Organisation has defined “highest priority critically important antimicrobials” (CIAs) as those requiring the greatest control during food production. Evidence demonstrating that restricted antimicrobial usage prevents the emergence of resistance to CIA’s amongst pathogenic and commensal organisms on a production system-wide scale would strengthen international efforts to control antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Therefore, in a designed survey of all major chicken-meat producers in Australia, we investigated the phenotypic AMR of E. coli (n = 206) and Salmonella (n = 53) from caecal samples of chickens at slaughter (n = 200). A large proportion of E. coli isolates (63.1%) were susceptible to all tested antimicrobials. With regards to CIA resistance, only two E.coli isolates demonstrated resistance to fluoroquinolones, attributed to mutations in the quinolone resistance-determining regions of gyrA. Antimicrobial resistance was observed for trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (8.7%), streptomycin (9.7%), ampicillin (14.1%), tetracycline (19.4%) and cefoxitin (0.5%). All Salmonella isolates were susceptible to ceftiofur, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, colistin, florfenicol, gentamicin and tetracycline. A low frequency of Salmonella isolates exhibited resistance to streptomycin (1.9%), ampicillin (3.8%), and cefoxitin (11.3%). AMR was only observed among Salmonella Sofia serovars. None of the Salmonella isolates exhibited a multi-class-resistant phenotype. Whole genome sequencing did not identify any known resistance mechanisms for the Salmonella isolates demonstrating resistance to cefoxitin. The results provide strong evidence that resistance to highest priority CIA’s is absent in commensal E. coli and Salmonella isolated from Australian meat chickens, and demonstrates low levels of resistance to compounds with less critical ratings such as cefoxitin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, and tetracycline. Apart from regulated exclusion of CIAs from most aspects of livestock production, vaccination against key bacterial pathogens and stringent biosecurity are likely to have contributed to the favorable AMR status of the Australian chicken meat industry. Nevertheless, industry and government need to proactively monitor AMR and antimicrobial stewardship practices to ensure the long-term protection of both animal and human health.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Antimicrobial Resistance and Infectious Disease Laboratory
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Copyright: © 2019 Abraham et al
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
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