Correlation between veterinary antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance in food-producing animals: a report on seven countries

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2014 Mar;69(3):827-34. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkt443. Epub 2013 Nov 11.


Objectives: To evaluate correlations between antimicrobial use and the prevalence of resistance in commensal Escherichia coli isolates from pigs, poultry and cattle, using data from publicly available national or international reports from seven European countries.

Methods: The link between the quantities of different classes of antimicrobials administered to food-producing animals per country (expressed in mg/population correction unit) and the prevalence of resistance to the different antimicrobial classes (interpreted by EUCAST epidemiological cut-off values) in E. coli isolates (4831 isolates in total) was assessed by means of polynomial regression analysis and determination of Spearman's rank correlation coefficient.

Results: A quadratic regression best fitted the antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance data. The coefficient of determination was, in decreasing order, 0.99 for fluoroquinolones and amphenicols, 0.94 for third-generation cephalosporins and sulphonamides, 0.93 for aminopenicillins, 0.86 for fluoroquinolones, 0.81 for streptomycin and 0.80 for gentamicin and tetracycline. Spearman's rank correlation coefficient was 1 for amphenicols, 0.96 for sulphonamides, 0.93 for streptomycin and tetracycline, 0.89 for aminopenicillins, 0.71 for gentamicin and 0.70 for third-generation cephalosporins.

Conclusions: These remarkably high coefficients indicate that, at a national level, the level of use of specific antimicrobials strongly correlates to the level of resistance towards these agents in commensal E. coli isolates in pigs, poultry and cattle. However, data restraints reveal the need for further detail in collection and harmonization of antimicrobial resistance and use data in Europe.

Keywords: E. coli; antibiotics; surveillance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry / methods*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / microbiology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Cattle
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Europe
  • Poultry
  • Prevalence
  • Swine


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents