Sources of variation in the ampicillin-resistant Escherichia coli concentration in the feces of organic broiler chickens
Pleydell, E. J., Brown, P. E., Woodward, M. J., Davies, R. H. and French, N. P. (2007) Sources of variation in the ampicillin-resistant Escherichia coli concentration in the feces of organic broiler chickens. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 73 (1). pp. 203-210. ISSN 0099-2240
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1128/aem.01482-06
Currently, there are limited published data for the population dynamics of antimicrobial-resistant commensal bacteria. This study was designed to evaluate both the proportions of the Escherichia coli populations that are resistant to ampicillin at the level of the individual chicken on commercial broiler farms and the feasibility of obtaining repeated measures of fecal E. coli concentrations. Short-term temporal variation in the concentration of fecal E. coli was investigated, and a preliminary assessment was made of potential factors involved in the shedding of high numbers of ampicillin-resistant E. coli by growing birds in the absence of the use of antimicrobial drugs. Multilevel linear regression modeling revealed that the largest component of random variation in log-transformed fecal E. coli concentrations was seen between sampling occasions for individual birds. The incorporation of fixed effects into the model demonstrated that the older, heavier birds in the study were significantly more likely (P = 0.0003) to shed higher numbers of ampicillin-resistant E. coli. This association between increasing weight and high shedding was not seen for the total fecal E. coli population (P = 0.71). This implies that, in the absence of the administration of antimicrobial drugs, the proportion of fecal E. coli that was resistant to ampicillin increased as the birds grew. This study has shown that it is possible to collect quantitative microbiological data on broiler farms and that such data could make valuable contributions to risk assessments concerning the transfer of resistant bacteria between animal and human populations.