Retracted Geographical variation in cloacal microflora and bacterial antibiotic resistance in a threatened avian scavenger in relation to diet and livestock farming practices



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Retraction Volume 14, Issue 12, 3289, Article first published online: 4 December 2012

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The impact on wildlife health of the increase in the use of antimicrobial agents with the intensification of livestock production remains unknown. The composition, richness and prevalence of cloacal microflora as well as bacterial resistance to antibiotics in nestlings and full-grown Egyptian vultures Neophron percnopterus were assessed in four areas of Spain in which the degree of farming intensification differs. Differences in diet composition, especially the role of stabled livestock carrion, appear to govern the similarities of bacterial flora composition among continental populations, while the insular vulture population (Fuerteventura, Canary Islands) showed differences attributed to isolation. Evidence of a positive relationship between the consumption of stabled livestock carrion and bacterial resistance to multiple antibiotics was found. Bacterial resistance was high for semisynthetic penicillins and enrofloxacin, especially in the area with the most intensive stabled livestock production. The pattern of antibiotic resistance was similar for the different bacterial species within each area. Bacterial resistance to antibiotics may be determined by resistance of bacteria present in the livestock meat remains that constituted the food of this species, as indicated by the fact that resistance to each antibiotic was correlated in Escherichia coli isolated from swine carrion and Egyptian vulture nestlings. In addition, resistance in normal faecal bacteria (present in the microflora of both livestock and vultures) was higher than in Staphylococcus epidermidis, a species indicator of the transient flora acquired presumably through the consumption of wild rabbits. Potential negative effects of the use of antimicrobials in livestock farming included the direct ingestion of these drug residues and the effects of bacterial antibiotic resistance on the health of scavengers.