Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2012 May;18(5):741-9.
doi: 10.3201/eid1805.111153.

Antimicrobial Drug Resistance in Escherichia Coli From Humans and Food Animals, United States, 1950-2002

Free PMC article

Antimicrobial Drug Resistance in Escherichia Coli From Humans and Food Animals, United States, 1950-2002

Daniel A Tadesse et al. Emerg Infect Dis. .
Free PMC article


We conducted a retrospective study of Escherichia coli isolates recovered from human and food animal samples during 1950-2002 to assess historical changes in antimicrobial drug resistance. A total of 1,729 E. coli isolates (983 from humans, 323 from cattle, 138 from chickens, and 285 from pigs) were tested for susceptibility to 15 antimicrobial drugs. A significant upward trend in resistance was observed for ampicillin (p<0.001), sulfonamide (p<0.001), and tetracycline (p<0.001). Animal strains showed increased resistance to 11/15 antimicrobial agents, including ampicillin (p<0.001), sulfonamide (p<0.01), and gentamicin (p<0.001). Multidrug resistance (≥3 antimicrobial drug classes) in E. coli increased from 7.2% during the 1950s to 63.6% during the 2000s. The most frequent co-resistant phenotype observed was to tetracycline and streptomycin (29.7%), followed by tetracycline and sulfonamide (29.0%). These data describe the evolution of resistance after introduction of new antimicrobial agents into clinical medicine and help explain the range of resistance in modern E. coli isolates.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Change in antimicrobial drug resistance patterns among Escherichia coli isolates, United States, 1950–2002.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Distribution of multidrug resistance patterns among Escherichia coli isolates recovered from different sources, United States, 1950–2002.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Trend analysis of selected antimicrobial agents among Escherichia coli isolates from humans (A) and animals (B), United States, 1950–2002. AMP-R, ampicillin resistance; STR-R, streptomycin resistance; TET-R, tetracycline resistance.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 88 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Aarestrup FM, Wegener HC, Collignon P. Resistance in bacteria of the food chain: epidemiology and control strategies. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2008;6:733–50 10.1586/14787210.6.5.733 - DOI - PubMed
    1. Walsh CT. Antibiotics: actions, origins, resistance. Washington (DC): American Society for Microbiology Press; 2003
    1. Levy SB, Marshall B. Antibacterial resistance worldwide: causes, challenges and responses. Nat Med. 2004;10(Suppl):S122–9 10.1038/nm1145 - DOI - PubMed
    1. von Baum H, Marre R. Antimicrobial resistance of Escherichia coli and therapeutic implications. Int J Med Microbiol. 2005;295:503–11 10.1016/j.ijmm.2005.07.002 - DOI - PubMed
    1. Sodha SV, Lynch M, Wannemuehler K, Leeper M, Malavet M, Schaffzin J, et al. Multistate outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections associated with a national fast-food chain, 2006: a study incorporating epidemiological and food source traceback results. Epidemiol Infect. 2011;139:309–16 10.1017/S0950268810000920 - DOI - PubMed


LinkOut - more resources