An important element in the control of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is reduction in antimicrobial usage. In the veterinary sector individual antimicrobial treatment of livestock, rather than the use of group treatment, can help achieve this goal. The aim of this study was to investigate how cessation of group antimicrobial treatment impacted the prevalence of AMR in commensal Escherichia coli in pigs at one farm over an 11-month period. Minimum inhibitory concentrations of eight antimicrobials were determined for 259 E. coli isolates collected during the study. A significant reduction in the prevalence of multidrug resistance and a significant increase in the proportion of full susceptibility to the panel of nine antimicrobials tested was seen after 11 months. Whole genome sequencing of 48 multidrug resistant isolates revealed E. coli clones that persisted across multiple visits and provided evidence for the presence of plasmids harbouring AMR genes shared across multiple E. coli lineages. E. coli were also isolated from on-farm environmental samples. Whole genome sequencing of one multidrug resistant isolate obtained from cleaning tools showed it was clonal to pig-derived E. coli that persisted on the farm for 11 months. In this study we provide evidence that withdrawal of group antimicrobial use leads to significant reductions in key indicators for AMR prevalence and the importance of the farm environment as a reservoir of resistant bacteria. These findings support policy makers and producers in the implementation of measures to control AMR and reduce antimicrobial use.
De Lucia, A.
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