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Growing Prevalence of Antibiotic Resistance in Chicken Investigated

28 June 2013

CANADA - The increasing prevalence of resistance to a fluroquinolone antibiotic in retail chicken, revealed in a new study, is causing concern.

Between 2005 and 2010, the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS) identified increased prevalence of ciprofloxacin (a fluoroquinolone) resistance among Campylobacter isolates from retail chicken in British Columbia (four to 17 per cent) and Saskatchewan (six to 11 per cent).

In a report of the study in Emerging Infectious Diseases, first author, Dr A. Agunos of the Public Health Agency of Canada in Guelph, and co-authors stress that fluoroquinolones are critically important to human medicine and are not labelled for use in poultry in Canada.

They conclude that the Public Health Agency of Canada is concerned by the emergence of resistance to ciprofloxacin, which is critically important for treatment of Campylobacter spp. infection in humans.

Extra-label use of fluoroquinolones in the broiler breeder or broiler chicken sectors might have contributed to the emergence of this resistance, they say, adding that the role of importation of poultry products as a potential source of resistant strains requires further investigation.

The broiler industry is collaborating with CIPARS to create a farm surveillance programme, which would capture data on antimicrobial drug use and resistance.

Veterinary fluoroquinolones are not labelled for use in poultry in Canada. The policy of the Veterinary Drugs Directorate - part of Health Canada - recommends against the extra-label use of Category I antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals.

The researchers call for more work to assess mechanisms responsible for the trends observed for tetracycline and ciprofloxacin resistance.

Furthermore, they add, genotyping of isolates from humans and chickens (retail and/or abattoir) from British Columbia and Saskatchewan is required to determine if strains are epidemiologically related.


Agunos A., Léger D., Avery B.P., Parmley E.J., Deckert A., Carson C.A. and and Dutil L. 2013. Ciprofloxacin-resistant Campylobacter spp. in retail chicken, western Canada. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2013 Jul [date cited].

Further Reading

You can view the full paper by clicking here.

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