Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry

Feather segmentation to discriminate between different enrofloxacin treatments in order to monitor off-label use in the poultry sector.

PMID 26507330


Antibiotics are commonly used in the poultry industry to treat bacterial infections. In the combat against bacterial resistance, policies require, besides a reduction of antibiotic usage in humans and animals, an up-to-date farmer registration mentioning all treatments. For enforcement of such policies, tests are needed to antedate administration and to determine the type of treatment so as to prevent off-label use and the supervacaneous use of last-resort antibiotics like cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones. After poultry treatment, high amounts of enrofloxacin and its metabolite ciprofloxacin are deposited in chicken feathers. A method is presented to discriminate different treatments based on differentiating extractable and non-extractable enrofloxacin and ciprofloxacin in chicken feathers. With this approach, we show it is possible to distinguish between a registered therapeutic oral treatment, an off-label spray treatment and an illegal prolonged sub-therapeutic treatment with enrofloxacin. This approach is a new and strong tool in the enforcement of new policies in the fight against off-label and supervacaneous antibiotic use.