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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2005 Oct;56(4):765-8. Epub 2005 Aug 24.

Campylobacter coli: prevalence and antimicrobial resistance in antimicrobial-free (ABF) swine production systems.

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  • 1Department of Population Health and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, 4700 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, NC 27606, USA.



To determine the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance of Campylobacter species in swine reared in the intensive and extensive antimicrobial-free (ABF) production systems at farm and slaughter. In the ABF system, antimicrobials are neither used for growth promotion nor therapeutic purposes.


Swine faecal and carcass swabs were collected from 10 groups of pigs (five each from intensive and extensive ABF farms) at the finishing farm and the slaughter plant. A total of 292 pigs at farm (extensive 118; intensive 174) and 254 carcass swabs (extensive 134; intensive 120) were collected during the study. Campylobacter species were isolated under microaerobic conditions and confirmed by biochemical testing. Up to three presumptive Campylobacter colonies per positive pig/carcass were further characterized. Speciation was done by PCR, targeting ceuE and hipO genes for Campylobacter coli and Campylobacter jejuni, respectively. The isolates were tested for their antimicrobial resistance profile using the agar dilution method against six antimicrobials.


A total of 526 Campylobacter isolates were cultured from 292 pigs and 254 carcasses sampled. All the isolates were found to be C. coli. Overall prevalence of C. coli was 55.8% on farm (55% extensive and 56.3% intensive) and 26% at slaughter (32.8% extensive and 18.3% intensive). There was no significant difference in C. coli between the intensive and extensive systems on the finishing farms (P = 0.83). At post-chill stage, C. coli were isolated only from the extensively reared ABF pigs. Antimicrobial resistance against ciprofloxacin (MIC > 4 mg/L) was found at the farm level in both the intensive- and extensive-reared groups. The erythromycin/nalidixic acid/tetracycline resistance pattern (3%) was the most common pattern in multidrug-resistant C. coli.


This study highlights the high prevalence of diverse and antimicrobial-resistant C. coli in the ABF production systems of swine. This is the first study reporting the isolation of ciprofloxacin-resistant strains from ABF pigs in the USA and warrants concern.

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