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Keywords:

  • Campylobacter;
  • heterogeneity;
  • antimicrobial resistance;
  • swine;
  • minimum inhibitory concentration;
  • multi locus sequence typing

Summary

The aim of this study was to determine the phenotypic and genotypic diversity of multiple Campylobacter isolates (n = 3 per sample) present within individual (heterogeneity) pig faecal and carcass samples at farm and slaughter, respectively. We isolated 1459 Campylobacter coli (1110 on farm and 349 from slaughter) from 908 pigs and 757 carcasses and characterized them for their antimicrobial susceptibility profile to a panel of six antimicrobials using the agar dilution method. Overall, we detected a significantly higher Campylobacter prevalence at the farm (54.7%) than at slaughter (19%) level (< 0.05). C. coli isolates were resistant most commonly to tetracycline (66.2%) and erythromycin (53.6%) while fluoroquinolone resistance was detected in isolates (n = 17) only from the farm level. Phenotypic diversity of C. coli isolates at the 4-fold minimum inhibitory concentration levels within the same sample was detected in 38.6% (n = 192) pigs and 40.2% (n = 58) carcass swabs with no significant difference between the two sources (P = 0.72). Phenotypic heterogeneity based on the antimicrobial resistance patterns was observed in 32.5% (n = 162) of the farm samples and in 30.5% (n = 44) carcass swabs at slaughter (P = 0.64). A subset of 40 isolates representing ten pigs and eight carcass samples (originating from separate pigs) were further genotyped by multi locus sequence typing. The observation of phenotypic diversity was replicated at the genotypic level, as it was highlighted by the 22 sequence types which represented the 40 isolates. In conclusion, we detected multiple C. coli subtypes from individual pig or carcass samples indicating unprecedented level of heterogeneity. Our study clearly signifies the importance of testing multiple colonies to make appropriate and valid conclusions in epidemiological-based studies.