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Poult Sci. 2013 Jan;92(1):250-4. doi: 10.3382/ps.2012-02575.

Effect of competitive exclusion in reducing the occurrence of Escherichia coli producing extended-spectrum β-lactamases in the ceca of broiler chicks.

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  • 1Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, Mustialankatu 3, FI-00790 Helsinki, Finland.


Extended-spectrum β-lactamases (ESBL) and class C serine β-lactamases (pAmpC) able to hydrolyze third-generation cephalosporins are a recognized threat to the efficacy of these drugs in treating serious infections. Broiler chicks are a known source of Escherichia coli harboring genes for these enzymes. Competitive exclusion (CE) has been used for decades in Finland to prevent the colonization of broiler ceca by Salmonella, but has not been widely used in Sweden. The markedly different prevalences of ESBL- or pAmpC-producing E. coli at slaughter in broilers produced in the 2 countries suggest a potential role for CE. The present study was undertaken to determine the efficacy of a commercial CE product in reducing the colonization of broiler ceca by ESBL- or pAmpC-producing E. coli. The challenge organisms were isolated from healthy broilers in Sweden. Each E. coli strain (1 ESBL and 2 pAmpC types) was subjected to 4 replicate trials. In each trial, a group of 20 newly hatched Ross breed chicks were treated by gavage with the CE product, whereas another group of 20 was left untreated. The next day, all 40 chicks were inoculated by gavage with the E. coli strain. The chicks were reared in cardboard boxes and received feed and water ad libitum. After a week the chicks were asphyxiated with CO(2), and their ceca removed and examined for the presence of the E. coli strains. The median and quartiles of the challenge E. coli estimates in the groups were determined, and the treated and control groups were compared with the Wilcoxon 2-sample test. In each trial, a substantial and statistically significant or highly significant reduction was observed in the colonization of the ceca of CE-treated chicks by E. coli strains, compared with that of untreated control. Referring to an arbitrary criterion for high shedders presented in the literature, it was concluded that at least for the ESBL E. coli, the results were also of epidemiological relevance.

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