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Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2011 Jan;8(1):87-98. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2010.0632. Epub 2010 Oct 30.

Effects of restricted antimicrobial exposure on antimicrobial resistance in fecal Escherichia coli from feedlot cattle.

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Animal Population Health Institute, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.



The primary objective was to evaluate differences in antimicrobial resistance among enteric bacteria recovered from feedlot cattle that were being raised without exposure to antimicrobial drugs (AMDs) and those reared using conventional practices.


Forty pens of feedlot cattle (4557 total animals) that were being fed without AMD exposures were selected for enrollment as were 44 pens of cattle (4913 total animals) being fed for production of conventional beef products at the same feedlots. Fecal samples were collected from the floors of pens approximately biweekly through the middle of the feeding period and again prior to slaughter. Samples were cultured to recover nontype-specific Escherichia coli (NTSEC) and Salmonella enterica, and isolates were evaluated for susceptibility to a panel of AMDs.


Cattle enrolled in the study did not differ between groups in entry weight or finish weight, but cattle with restricted AMD and hormone exposures were fed for an average of 50 days longer than conventionally reared cattle (p < 0.001). Resistance among NTSEC isolates was most common to tetracycline, streptomycin, and sulfamethoxazole, and there were slightly higher prevalence of resistance among NTSEC isolates recovered from conventionally reared cattle. Therapeutic AMD exposures did not have a detectable impact on the prevalence of resistance among NTSEC. Although there were detectable temporal trends through the feeding period for resistance to tetracycline, naladixic acid, chloramphenicol, and cephalothin, the direction of trends differed among drugs and these trends were not associated with study groups. S. enterica was recovered rarely (0.73%) but at similar prevalences from cattle with both rearing methods.


These findings suggest that conventional feedlot production methods (including parenteral and in-feed use of AMDs) do not predictably or uniformly increase the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance among fecal NTSEC when compared with rearing methods that restrict exposure to AMDs.

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