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Environ Health Perspect. 2005 May;113(5):557-60.

Fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter isolates from conventional and antibiotic-free chicken products.

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Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N. Wolfe Street, Suite W6114, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


The use of fluoroquinolones (FQs) in poultry production is an important issue in public health today. In February 2002, two prominent U.S. poultry companies pledged to stop using FQs for flock-wide treatment. One year later, we began a survey of Campylobacter isolates on chicken products from these two companies and from two producers claiming total abstention from antibiotic use. Using both standard isolation methods and new methods modified to enhance detection of FQ-resistant Campylobacter, we compared rates of FQ-resistant Campylobacter among these products. Four major findings were drawn from this study: a) antibiotic-free brands were not more likely to be contaminated with Campylobacter; b) a high percentage of products from the two conventional brands were contaminated with FQ-resistant Campylobacter (43 and 96%); c) these conventional brands had significantly higher odds of carrying resistant strains compared with antibiotic-free products; and d) supplementing media with FQs increased the sensitivity of detecting FQ-resistant strains among mixed populations of Campylobacter, thus reducing a bias toward underestimating the prevalence of FQ-resistant Campylobacter on samples. These results suggest that FQ resistance may persist in the commercial poultry environment in the absence of FQ-selective pressure and that these strains contaminate a larger proportion of foods than reported previously.

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