Incidence and antibiotic resistance of pathogenic Escherichia coli among poultry in Belgium

Avian E.coli and antibiotic resistance common among Belgian poultry

source: F. Vandemaele et al
Veterinary Record vol 151 no 12, September 21 2002
starts p355, 2 pages long

Escherichia coli is also called avian pathogenic E.coli (APEC) when it affects poultry. Infections tend to start in the trachea, spreading to the lungs and then the internal organs. The oviduct may become infected, which affects egg-laying, and the infection can be fatal. The meat of broilers may also show fibrous lesions.

A survey of birds studied at East-Flanders regional laboratory, Belgium, has found that 17.7% of broilers were affected. A sample of dead or diseased egg-layers found a higher rate, of 38.6%. This high rate was because of the type of sample, and the incidence of 17.7% is more accurate. APEC infection was found in 153 of 503 Belgian poultry farms surveyed in 2000.

APEC is most commonly treated with antibiotics, but this survey found high resistance, with most APEC strains resistant to two or more of five antibiotics. Resistance to tetracylines was found in 66% of 98 randomly selected strains of APEC in 2000, and resistance to ampicillin/amoxycillin was found in 59%. Half the strains were resistant to trimethoprim plus sulphonamide, and 36% to flumequine. Resistance to enrofloxacin was least common, and was found in only 13% of the strains. Only 5.1%s showed resistance to the five antibiotics, but 27.55% were resistant to four antibiotics, while 17.35% were sensitive to all five, a low figure.

Alternative measures, such as vaccination, should be used, given this high resistance to antibiotics, and the public health concerns involved.