The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and extended-spectrum and AmpC β-lactamase (ESBL/AmpC)-producing Escherichia coli among broilers, and humans living and/or working on organic broiler farms; further characterise isolates; and compare these results with those from conventional farms. In the Netherlands, only 9 certified organic broiler farms were present. On 8 of these farms, 60 throat swabs and 20 cloacal swabs were taken per farm for MRSA and ESBL/AmpC-E. coli detection, respectively, at an average age of both 34 (T1) and 68 (T2) days. Faecal swabs and questionnaires were returned by 27 out of 36 humans. For selected ESBL/AmpC-producing E. coli isolates, phylogenetic groups, β-lactamase genes, plasmid families, and sequence types were determined. MRSA was not detected in broiler and human samples. ESBL/AmpC-producing E. coli were isolated from broilers on 7/8 farms at T1 and on all farms at T2. Furthermore, 3 farmers at T1, and 2 farmers and 1 family member at T2 were positive. Genes found in broilers and humans were almost exclusively blaCTX-M-1 and blaCMY-2. Given the high overall human ESBL/AmpC-prevalence (18.5%), which is similar to conventional farms, contact with live broilers is assumed a risk factor for carriage. Farm and sample-level prevalence at T1 are consistent with those from conventional farms. At T2, just before slaughter, sample-level prevalence of ESBL/AmpC-E. coli appears to have decreased (94.3% vs. 80%), which could have important consequences for contamination of retail meat.
Keywords: Broiler prevalence; ESBL; Human carriage; MRSA.
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