Risk factors for antibiotic resistance in Campylobacter spp. isolated from raw poultry meat in Switzerland

BMC Public Health. 2003 Dec 9:3:39. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-3-39.


Background: The world-wide increase of foodborne infections with antibiotic resistant pathogens is of growing concern and is designated by the World Health Organization as an emerging public health problem. Thermophilic Campylobacter have been recognised as a major cause of foodborne bacterial gastrointestinal human infections in Switzerland and in many other countries throughout the world. Poultry meat is the most common source for foodborne cases caused by Campylobacter. Because all classes of antibiotics recommended for treatment of human campylobacteriosis are also used in veterinary medicine, in view of food safety, the resistance status of Campylobacter isolated from poultry meat is of special interest.

Methods: Raw poultry meat samples were collected throughout Switzerland and Liechtenstein at retail level and examined for Campylobacter spp. One strain from each Campylobacter-positive sample was selected for susceptibility testing with the disc diffusion and the E-test method. Risk factors associated with resistance to the tested antibiotics were analysed by multiple logistic regression.

Results: In total, 91 Campylobacter spp. strains were isolated from 415 raw poultry meat samples. Fifty-one strains (59%) were sensitive to all tested antibiotics. Nineteen strains (22%) were resistant to a single, nine strains to two antibiotics, and eight strains showed at least three antibiotic resistances. Resistance was observed most frequently to ciprofloxacin (28.7%), tetracycline (12.6%), sulphonamide (11.8%), and ampicillin (10.3%). One multiple resistant strain exhibited resistance to five antibiotics including ciprofloxacin, tetracycline, and erythromycin. These are the most important antibiotics for treatment of human campylobacteriosis. A significant risk factor associated with multiple resistance in Campylobacter was foreign meat production compared to Swiss meat production (odds ratio = 5.7).

Conclusion: Compared to the situation in other countries, the data of this study show a favourable resistance situation for Campylobacter strains isolated from raw poultry meat produced in Switzerland. Nevertheless, the prevalence of 19% ciprofloxacin resistant strains is of concern and has to be monitored. "Foreign production vs. Swiss production" was a significant risk factor for multiple resistance in the logistic regression model. Therefore, an adequate resistance-monitoring programme should include meat produced in Switzerland as well as imported meat samples.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Campylobacter / drug effects*
  • Campylobacter / isolation & purification
  • Chickens / microbiology
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial*
  • Food Industry / classification
  • Food Industry / standards
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Liechtenstein
  • Logistic Models
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Poultry / microbiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Switzerland


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents