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Prev Vet Med. 2005 Jun 10;69(1-2):25-38. Epub 2005 Feb 26.

Animal and farm influences on the dynamics of antibiotic resistance in faecal Escherichia coli in young dairy calves.

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Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, 18830 Road 112, Tulare, 93274 CA, USA.


It is believed that the intensive use of antibiotics in the management of disease in pre-weaned calves contributes to high levels of antibiotic resistance in commensal and pathogenic bacteria. We described the temporal dynamics of antibiotic-susceptibility patterns seen in bovine enteric Escherichia coli in pre-weaned calves on dairy farms and dedicated calf-rearing facilities. Cohorts of 30 calves at each of six farms were sampled at 2-week intervals during the pre-weaning period. Faecal E. coli isolates were analyzed for antibiotic susceptibility to 12 antibiotics with the disk-diffusion method and grouped using cluster analysis of inhibition-zone patterns. The influences of calf age, farm-type, and individual-calf antibiotic therapy on the clusterings were assessed using stratified analyses and cumulative multinomial logistic regression using generalized estimating equation with antibiotic-resistance cluster as an ordinal-dependent variable. The model controlled for farm and cohort by a nested design and included a repeated measure on calf at each sampling occasion. E. coli from calves 2 weeks of age were more likely to be increasingly multiply resistant than E. coli from day-old calves (OR = 53.6), as were 4- and 6-week-old calves (OR = 29.8 and 16.4, respectively). E. coli from calves on dedicated calf-rearing facilities were more likely to be increasingly multiply resistant than E. coli from dairy-reared calves (OR = 2.4). E. coli from calves treated with antibiotics within 5 days prior to sampling were also more likely to be increasingly multiply resistant than E. coli from calves not exposed to individual antibiotic therapy (OR = 2.0).

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