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Types and prevalence of extended–spectrum beta–lactamase producing Enterobacteriaceae in poultry

  • Eva-Maria Saliu (a1), Wilfried Vahjen (a1) and Jürgen Zentek (a1)


For several billion years, bacteria have developed mechanisms to resist antibacterial substances. In modern time, antibiotics are frequently used in veterinary and human medicine for prevention and treatment of diseases, globally still also for their growth promoting effects as feed additives. This complex situation has evolved in accelerating development and prevalence of multi-drug resistant bacteria in livestock and people. Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing bacteria are resistant to a wide range of ß-lactam antibiotics. They are currently considered as one of the main threats for the treatment of infections in humans and animals. In livestock and animal products, poultry and poultry products show the highest prevalence of ESBL-producers with CTX-M-1, TEM-52 and SHV-12 being the most common ESBL-types in poultry. Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp. are the bacteria in poultry, which carry ESBL-genes most frequently. ESBL-producing bacteria are present at every level of the poultry production pyramid and can be detected even in the meconium of newly hatched chicks. The environment close to poultry barns shows high prevalence rates of these bacteria and contributes to an ongoing infection pressure with further ESBL-types. Probiotics have been shown to successfully reduce ESBL-producers in chicken, as well as ESBL-gene transfer. Other feed additives, such as zinc and copper, increase the prevalence of ESBL-producing bacteria when fed to animals. To our best knowledge, this is the first publication presenting a comparative overview of the prevalence of ESBL-types using data from different countries. To reduce the hazard for public health from poultry carrying high numbers of ESBL-producers, preventive measurements must include the surrounding environment and avoidance of antibiotic usage at all levels of the production pyramid. The first results, of the research on the impact of feed additives on the spread of ESBL-genes, indicate the diet as a further, possible magnitude of influence.

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