Antibiotic resistance in poultry independent on antimicrobial usage

by Editor
Friday, March 09, 2007

University of Georgia scientists found that reduced application of antibiotics on poultry farms will do little, if anything, to reduce rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Dr. Margie Lee, professor in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, and her colleagues investigated commensal Escherichia coli strains colonizing broiler chickens and having the potential to threaten human health.

They have found that chickens raised on antibiotic-free farms, and even those raised under pristine laboratory conditions, have high levels of bacteria that are resistant to common antibiotics.

Her findings suggest that poultry come to the farm harboring resistant bacteria, possibly acquired as they were developing in their eggs.

Lee and her team sampled droppings from more than 140,000 birds under four different conditions: commercial flocks and flocks raised in a lab with each of the flocks subdivided into a group that had been given and one that had not been given antibiotics.