• antimicrobial;
  • Campylobacter;
  • macrolide;
  • resistance;
  • turkey


Aims:  This study assessed the effects of the therapeutic use of Tylan® in a large-scale turkey production facility on the selection of macrolide-resistant Campylobacter.

Methods and Results:  A flock of production turkeys (c. 30 000 birds) was followed from brooding to slaughter, and the effects of macrolide application was assessed in one half of the flock from finishing stage to final product and compared against the control barn where no macrolide was used. Overall, Campylobacter prevalence in turkeys was almost 100% by 4 weeks of age. When Campylobacter prevalence was assessed in relation to treatment, high levels of macrolide resistance were evident in this group following treatment, with Campylobacter coli becoming the dominant strain type. Over time, and in the absence of a selection agent, the population of resistant strains decreased suggesting that there was a fitness cost associated with macrolide resistance carriage and persistence. Macrolide resistance was detected in the control barn at a very low level (four isolates recovered during the study), suggesting that the creation or selection of macrolide-resistant Campylobacter was correlated with the treatment regime used. Molecular analysis of a selection of macrolide-resistant Campylobacter recovered was assessed using PCR, RFLP and sequence analysis of the 23S rRNA. The majority of isolates displaying high-level macrolide resistance (>256 μg ml−1) possessed an A2075G transition mutation in the 23S rRNA and the CmeABC efflux pump.

Conclusions:  These studies suggest that macrolide resistance can be promoted through the application of treatment during the grow-out phase and once established in a production facility has the potential to persist and be transferred to final product.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  The study highlights the prudent use of antimicrobials in treatment of disease in poultry. Of significance is the presence of macrolide-resistant Campylobacter in poultry production and finished product as a consequence of macrolide usage.