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Can J Vet Res. 2008;72(2):119-28.

Antimicrobial resistance in generic fecal Escherichia coli from 29 beef farms in Ontario.

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  • 1Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses, Public Health Agency of Canada, 160 Research Lane, Unit 103, Guelph, Ontario N1G 5B2. (Carson, carolee_carson@phac-aspc.gc-ca


The occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in generic Escherichia coli can serve as an indicator of the pool of resistance genes potentially available for transfer to pathogenic organisms. This study was conducted on 29 volunteer beef farms in Ontario to describe the prevalence and patterns of antimicrobial resistance in E. coli, and to describe changes in the prevalence of resistance during the feedlot stage of production. From the pooled fecal samples on 28 of the 29 farms, 31% of isolates from feedlots (n = 993) and 12% of isolates from cow-calf farms (n = 807) were resistant to one or more of 16 antimicrobials tested. No isolates were resistant to ceftriaxone, ciprofloxacin, gentamicin, or nalidixic acid, and < 1% of the pooled isolates were resistant to ceftiofur. Two percent of both feedlot and cow-calf isolates were resistant to > or = 5 antimicrobials. Cow-calf farms were at significantly lower risk than feedlots for having E. coli isolates that were resistant to streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, and tetracycline. On average, the prevalence of sulfamethoxazole resistant E. coli isolates was significantly higher in calves than in cows. No resistance was observed to ceftriaxone or ciprofloxacin among isolates (n = 1265) obtained from individually sampled feedlot animals on 2 farms. Less than 1% of these isolates were resistant to gentamicin, nalidixic acid, and ceftiofur. From the individually sampled feedlot animals, resistance to streptomycin (on 1 farm), sulfamethoxazole, and tetracycline increased significantly from arrival to mid-point during the feeding period, and these levels persisted until market-readiness.

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