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Can J Microbiol. 2015 Nov;61(11):785-98. doi: 10.1139/cjm-2015-0239. Epub 2015 Aug 20.

Antimicrobial use in swine production and its effect on the swine gut microbiota and antimicrobial resistance.

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a Department of Animal Science, McGill University, 21 111 Lakeshore Road, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC H9X 3V9, Canada.
b Department of Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry, McGill University, 21 111 Lakeshore Road, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC H9X 3V9, Canada.


Antimicrobials have been used in swine production at subtherapeutic levels since the early 1950s to increase feed efficiency and promote growth. In North America, a number of antimicrobials are available for use in swine. However, the continuous administration of subtherapeutic, low concentrations of antimicrobials to pigs also provides selective pressure for antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and resistance determinants. For this reason, subtherapeutic antimicrobial use in livestock remains a source of controversy and concern. The swine gut microbiota demonstrates a number of changes in response to antimicrobial administration depending on the dosage, duration of treatment, age of the pigs, and gut location that is sampled. Both culture-independent and -dependent studies have also shown that the swine gut microbiota contains a large number of antimicrobial resistance determinants even in the absence of antimicrobial exposure. Heavy metals, such as zinc and copper, which are often added at relatively high doses to swine feed, may also play a role in maintaining antimicrobial resistance and in the stability of the swine gut microbiota. This review focuses on the use of antimicrobials in swine production, with an emphasis on the North American regulatory context, and their effect on the swine gut microbiota and on antimicrobial resistance determinants in the gut microbiota.


antimicrobial resistance; antimicrobials; antimicrobiens; biodiversité phylogénétique; gut microbiota; industrie porcine; microbiote intestinal; phylogenetic biodiversity; résistance aux antimicrobiens; swine production

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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