Oral Antimicrobials Increase Antimicrobial Resistance in Porcine E. coli

Based on a literature review, German researchers have concluded that oral administration of antimicrobials increases the risk of antibiotic resistance developing in E. coli from pigs.
calendar icon 5 February 2014
clock icon 3 minute read

Administration of antimicrobials to livestock increases the risk of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in commensal bacteria, according to E. Burow from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin and co-authors. They continue that antimicrobials in pig production are usually administered per pen via feed which implies treatment of sick alongside with healthy animals.

The objective of their systematic literature review, published in Preventative Veterinary Medicine, was to investigate the effect of orally administered antimicrobials on AMR in Escherichia coli of swine.

Studies published in peer reviewed journals were retrieved from the international online databases ISI Web of Knowledge, PubMed, Scopus and the national electronic literature data base of Deutsches Institut für Medizinische Dokumentation und Information. The studies were assessed using the eligibility criteria English or German language, access to full paper version, defined treatment and control group (initial value or non-treatment) as well as administration and resistance testing of the same antimicrobial class.

In the qualitative synthesis, only studies were included presenting the summary measures odds ratio or prevalence of resistance, the category of the applied antimicrobial and the dosage. An effect of the antimicrobial on AMR in E. coli was evaluated as an 'increase', 'no effect' or 'decrease' if the odds or alternatively the prevalence ratio were >1.0, 1.0 or <1.0, respectively.

Eleven studies, describing 36 different trials, fulfilled the eligibility criteria and were finally assessed.

An increase of AMR in E. coli was found in 10 out of 11 trials comparing AMR after with AMR prior to oral treatment and in 22 of the 25 trials comparing orally treated with untreated groups.

Effects expressed as odds or prevalence ratios were highest for the use of aminoglycosides, quinolones and tetracycline. There was no clear association between the reported dosage and AMR towards tetracycline.

Information on antimicrobial substance and dosage was missing in four and five of the 11 finally selected studies. The 36 identified trials were inhomogenous in usage and provision of information on sample size.

Oral administration of antimicrobials increases the risk of AMR in E. coli from swine, concluded Burow and co-authors. However, they add, there is a lack of studies on the impact of dosage and longitudinal effects of treatment. The published studies have a number of issues concerning their scientific quality.

The Berlin-based group called for more high quality research to address and quantify better the effect of orally administered antimicrobials on AMR in swine.


Burow E., C. Simoneit, B-A. Tenhagen and A. Käsbohrer. 2013. Oral antimicrobials increase antimicrobial resistance in porcine E. coli – a systematic review. Preventative Veterinary Medicine. Published online in 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2013.12.007

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.

February 2014

© 2000 - 2022 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.