Antimicrobial resistance in fecal Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica isolates: A two-year prospective study of small poultry flocks in Ontario, Canada

Csaba Varga, Michele T. Guerin, Marina L. Brash, Durda Slavic, Patrick Boerlin, Leonardo Susta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although keeping small poultry flocks is increasingly popular in Ontario, information on the antimicrobial susceptibility of enteric bacteria of such flocks is lacking. The current study was conducted on small poultry flocks in Ontario between October 2015 and September 2017, and samples were submitted on a voluntary basis to Ontario's Animal Health Laboratory. From each submission, a pooled cecal sample was obtained from all the birds of the same species from the same flock and tested for the presence of two common enteric pathogens, E. coli and Salmonella. Three different isolates from each E. coli-positive sample and one isolate from each Salmonella-positive sample were selected and tested for susceptibility to 14 antimicrobials using a broth microdilution technique. Results: A total of 433 fecal E. coli isolates (358 chicken, 27 turkey, 24 duck, and 24 game bird) and 5 Salmonella isolates (3 chicken, 1 turkey, and 1 duck) were recovered. One hundred and sixty-seven chicken, 5 turkey, 14 duck, and 15 game bird E. coli isolates were pan-susceptible. For E. coli, a moderate to high proportion of isolates were resistant to tetracycline (43% chicken, 81% turkey, 42% duck, and 38% game bird isolates), streptomycin (29% chicken, 37% turkey, and 33% game bird isolates), sulfonamides (17% chicken, 37% turkey, and 21% duck isolates), and ampicillin (16% chicken and 41% turkey isolates). Multidrug resistance was found in 37% of turkey, 20% of chicken, 13% of duck, and 8% of game bird E. coli isolates. Salmonella isolates were most frequently resistant to streptomycin, tetracycline, and sulfonamides. Resistance to cephalosporins, carbapenems, macrolides, and quinolones was infrequent in both E. coli and Salmonella isolates. Cluster and correlation analyses identified streptomycin-tetracycline-sulfisoxazole-trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole as the most common resistance pattern in chicken E. coli isolates. Turkey E. coli isolates compared to all the other poultry species had higher odds of resistance to tetracycline and ampicillin, and a higher multidrug resistance rate. Conclusions: Escherichia coli isolates were frequently resistant to antimicrobials commonly used to treat poultry bacterial infections, which highlights the necessity of judicious antimicrobial use to limit the emergence of multidrug resistant bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number464
JournalBMC Veterinary Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 21 2019


  • Antibiotic
  • Antimicrobial susceptibility
  • Backyard flock
  • Chicken
  • Longitudinal study
  • Multidrug resistance
  • Poultry
  • Surveillance
  • Turkey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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