Applied and environmental microbiology

Carriage and fecal counts of cefotaxime M-producing Escherichia coli in pigs: a longitudinal study.

PMID 23160131


Current knowledge on extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs) in animals is based largely on cross-sectional studies and qualitative data. The aim of this longitudinal study was to elucidate carriage proportions and fecal counts of ESBL-producing Escherichia coli in pigs during the production cycle. At each of three ESBL-positive single-sited farrow-to-finisher pig farms (farms A, B, and C) included in the study, individual fecal samples were taken from 17 to 20 sows 1 week before farrowing and from 2 piglets of each sow's litter four times from birth to slaughter (as piglets, weaners, and finishers). Cefotaxime (CTX)-resistant coliforms in feces were counted on MacConkey agar containing 2 μg/ml CTX and characterized for the presence of ESBL-encoding genes by PCR and sequencing. CTX-M-positive pigs were detected in all age groups at farms A (bla(CTX-M-9) group, compatible with bla(CTX-M-14/17)) and B (bla(CTX-M-1) group, compatible with bla(CTX-M-1/61)), whereas only three weaners were positive at farm C (bla(CTX-M-1) group, compatible with bla(CTX-M-1/61)). A significant decrease in carriage was detected during the production cycle, with on average 50% carriage immediately after birth, 58% just before weaning, 29% during weaning, and 12% during finishing. The observed reduction in numbers of CTX-M-positive pigs was accompanied by a significant reduction in mean fecal counts of CTX-resistant coliforms from ~10(7) CFU/g in piglets to ~10(3) CFU/g in finishers (P < 0.001). These findings provide novel information about the epidemiology of ESBLs at the farm level and have important implications for assessments of risks of meat contamination during slaughter.