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Keywords:

  • antimicrobials;
  • Campylobacter coli;
  • Campylobacter jejuni;
  • dairy cattle;
  • resistance

Abstract

Aims:  To obtain an overview of the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance of Campylobacter in faeces of US dairy cows in 2002.

Methods and Results:  Faeces from 1435 cows, representing 96 dairy operations in 21 US states, were collected for the culture of Campylobacter. A total of 735 Campylobacter strains were isolated (51·2% positive samples) with 94 operations positive (97·9%) for Campylobacter. From this collection, 532 isolates (473 Campylobacter jejuni and 59 Campylobacter coli) were randomly selected for susceptibility testing to eight antimicrobials: azithromycin, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, erythromycin, gentamicin, nalidixic acid and tetracycline. The C. jejuni isolates exhibited resistance to tetracycline (47·4%), nalidixic acid (4·0%) and ciprofloxacin (2·5%), while the C. coli strains exhibited some resistance to all antimicrobials except chloramphenicol and ciprofloxacin. Only 3·6% of the C. jejuni isolates were resistant to two or more antimicrobials but 20·3% of the C. coli strains were multiresistant.

Conclusions:  On most operations, at least one cow was positive for Campylobacter and more than half of the cows sampled were shedding Campylobacter. The C. coli isolates had significantly higher levels of resistance to macrolides and to tetracycline compared with the C. jejuni strains, but were susceptible to ciprofloxacin.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  This study demonstrated a high prevalence of Campylobacter on US dairy operations; however, US dairy cattle have not been recognized as a major source of human infection compared with poultry. Campylobacter coli appears to develop antimicrobial resistance more readily than C. jejuni from the same environment.