Antimicrobial resistance in Campylobacter, common in poultry, is a global public health issue. The emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistant Campylobacter has been linked to the use of antimicrobials in food animals. Small poultry flocks are becoming increasingly popular not only as a source of food but also as pets, yet not all small flock owners are aware of proper antimicrobial use practices and safe food handling protocols. This trend could contribute to antimicrobial resistance. In order to determine the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in Campylobacter in small poultry flocks, we analyzed data from birds that had been submitted to a diagnostic laboratory in Ontario between October 2015 and September 2017. A pooled cecal sample was obtained from each submission and cultured for Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli. Three isolates were recovered from each positive sample and tested for susceptibility to nine antimicrobials using a broth microdilution method. Overall, 176 isolates were recovered (141 chicken, 21 turkey, 6 duck, and 8 game bird). A high frequency of resistance to tetracycline was observed in the C. jejuni isolates from chickens (77%) and turkeys (100%), and in the C. coli isolates from turkeys (50%) and game birds (40%). Campylobacter jejuni isolates had higher odds of resistance to tetracycline (OR = 3.54, P 0.01) compared to C. coli isolates. Overall, there was a low frequency of resistance to quinolones and a very low frequency of resistance to macrolides. Multidrug resistance was uncommon. The high prevalence of tetracycline resistance emphasizes the importance of prudent antimicrobial use in small flocks. Although low, the presence of resistance to macrolides and quinolones, which are used to treat campylobacteriosis in humans, highlights the need for proper food safety and infection control practices by small flock owners to prevent exposure to antimicrobial resistant Campylobacter.
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