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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

versão On-line ISSN 2224-9435
versão impressa ISSN 1019-9128

J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. vol.79 no.4 Pretoria  2008




Antimicrobial drug resistance of Escherichia coli isolated from poultry abattoir workers at risk and broilers on antimicrobials



J W OguttuI; C M VearyI; J A PicardII

IDepartment of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X04, Onderstepoort, 0110 South Africa
IIDepartment of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X04, Onderstepoort, 0110 South Africa




Antimicrobial usage in food animals increases the prevalence of antimicrobial drug resistance among their enteric bacteria. It has been suggested that this resistance can in turn be transferred to people working with such animals, e.g. abattoir workers. Antimicrobial drug resistance was investigated for Escherichia coli from broilers raised on feed supplemented with antimicrobials, and the people who carry out evisceration, washing and packing of intestines in a high-throughput poultry abattoir in Gauteng, South Africa. Broiler carcasses were sampled from 6 farms, on each of which broilers are produced in a separate 'grow-out cycle'. Per farm, 100 caeca were randomly collected 5 minutes after slaughter and the contents of each were selectively cultured for E. coli. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of each isolate was determined for the following antimicrobials: doxycycline, trimethoprim, sulphamethoxazole, ampicillin, enrofloxacin, fosfomycin, ceftriaxone and nalidixic acid. The same was determined for the faeces of 29 abattoir workers and 28 persons used as controls. The majority of isolates from broilers were resistant, especially to antimicrobials that were used on the farms in the study. Overall median MICs and the number of resistant isolates from abattoir workers (packers plus eviscerators) tended to be higher than for the control group. However, no statistically significant differences were observed when the median MICs of antimicrobials used regularly in poultry and percentage resistance were compared, nor could an association between resistance among the enteric E. coli from packers and those from broilers be demonstrated.

Key words: abattoir workers, antimicrobial drug resistance transfer, broilers, Escherichia coli, MICs, oral antimicrobial therapy



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Received: May 2008
Accepted: November 2008



* Author for correspondence. Present address: College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa. E-mail:

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