ABSTRACT

Australia relies on periodic antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveys to determine trends and changes in AMR in animal production systems. This study is a follow-up to a survey of Escherichia coli from healthy cattle at slaughter conducted in 2013, which provided baseline data on AMR prevalence across cattle groups and production practices. In this study, 591 beef cattle, 194 dairy cattle, and 216 veal calf fecal samples were collected from 25 beef and veal processing establishments in Australia, representing approximately 77% of total export volume. A total of 969 matrix-assisted laser desorption–ionization results confirmed commensal E. coli isolates from 574 beef cattle, 186 dairy cattle, and 209 veal calves were recovered, and antimicrobial susceptibility testing was carried out by microbroth dilution to 16 drugs from 10 classes interpreted against epidemiological cutoff breakpoints. Overall, a high proportion of E. coli isolates (83.8%) were wild type for all antimicrobials assessed. In addition, isolates that were non–wild type (NWT) for three or more classes of antimicrobial did not exceed 4% for any of the cattle groups. The prevalence of E. coli that were NWT for antimicrobials that are critical or of high importance to human health was very low, with 1.4% of all isolates tested determined to be NWT for fluoroquinolones, third-generation cephalosporins, or polymyxins. Genomic analysis of NWT isolates identified one beef cattle isolate (ST-10) harboring blaCMY-2 and a dairy isolate (ST-58) and two veal calf isolates (ST-58 and ST-394) that had qnrS1, which confer resistance to extended-spectrum cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones, respectively. The low levels of AMR reported in this study confirm previous Australian studies, which indicated that there is minimal evidence that specific production practices lead to widespread disproportionate development of NWT isolates.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Most E. coli from Australian cattle were determined to be wild type.

  • Cattle production practices are not leading to widespread AMR.

  • Resistance to critical antimicrobials for human health was low.

  • Genomic analysis identified E. coli with blaCMY-2 or qnrS1.

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