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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2003 Oct;52(4):719-23. Epub 2003 Sep 1.

Rapid selection of quinolone resistance in Campylobacter jejuni but not in Escherichia coli in individually housed broilers.

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Animal Sciences Group, Wageningen University and Research Centre, PO Box 65, 8200 AB Lelystad, The Netherlands.



To determine the within-host population dynamics of Campylobacter jejuni and Escherichia coli in chickens during and after treatment with fluoroquinolones.


Total and resistant faecal counts were determined from cloacal swabs during and after treatment with enrofloxacin. Chickens were housed individually to avoid confounding as a result of interaction between animals, and to be able to focus solely on the within-host dynamics. To determine the molecular basis of resistance, a number of isolates were checked for mutations in gyrA.


Treatment with enrofloxacin at doses routinely prescribed (50 ppm) rapidly reduced the faecal counts of E. coli below the detection limit and did not induce resistance. In C. jejuni, on the other hand, treatment with enrofloxacin quickly selected for high frequencies of fluoroquinolone-resistant strains. In all phenotypically resistant isolates, resistance was traced to mutations in the gyrA gene.


(1) A licensed dosage (50 ppm) of enrofloxacin in drinking water of chickens is effective (i.e. markedly reduced faecal counts) and is safe on a short time scale in E. coli (i.e. did not rapidly select for resistance), but is neither safe nor effective in C. jejuni. (2) The rapid emergence of resistance to quinolones in C. jejuni does not necessarily result from horizontal transmission of resistant strains among chickens, but could solely be the result of de novo selection of resistance in individual chickens.

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