Antibiotic Resistance in Escherichia coli from Broiler Chickens After Amoxicillin Treatment in an Experimental Environment

Microb Drug Resist. 2020 Sep;26(9):1098-1107. doi: 10.1089/mdr.2019.0442.


Groupwise antibiotic treatments are common in broiler chicken production. They induce selection for antibiotic resistance in commensal Escherichia coli. This study aimed to investigate antibiotic resistance after individual (I, drenching) or groupwise treatment (G, by water) with amoxicillin, and after contact with I or G (KI or KG), compared with untreated broilers without contact with treated broilers (C), and pretreatment values. Finally, we compared antibiotic resistance from broilers (G) after a second treatment, with a treatment in the contact animals (KG), and a first treatment in the control animals (C). Resistance to ampicillin and other antibiotics was significantly increased in groups G and I within 2 days, suggesting (co-)selection of resistance. The increase was lower in groups KI, KG, and C during the first treatment (days 1-5). The increased resistance in group C was interpreted as a change in the microbiota after initial moving and first feeding. After treatment, resistance rates decreased to initial or lower values in all groups. During the second treatment period (days 34-38), all three groups' (G, KG, and C) resistance levels increased to equally high levels. Cephalosporin resistance was low, and did not change over the experimental period. On days 3 and 38, resistance rates of E. coli from duodenum, jejunum, and cecum did not differ between segments and treatment routes. Overall, the baseline levels of antibiotic resistance in E. coli were high. Amoxicillin triggered an increase in resistance levels, irrespective of the mode of treatment. Substantial resistance dynamics in untreated controls warrant further investigation.

Keywords: antimicrobial; cephalosporin; chicken; spread; susceptibility.