The effects of animal agriculture on the spread of antibiotic resistance (AR) are cross-cutting and thus require a multidisciplinary perspective. Here we use ecological, epidemiological, and ethnographic methods to examine populations of Escherichia coli circulating in the production poultry farming environment versus the domestic environment in rural Ecuador, where small-scale poultry production employing nontherapeutic antibiotics is increasingly common. We sampled 262 “production birds” (commercially raised broiler chickens and laying hens) and 455 “household birds” (raised for domestic use) and household and coop environmental samples from 17 villages between 2010 and 2013. We analyzed data on zones of inhibition from Kirby-Bauer tests, rather than established clinical breakpoints for AR, to distinguish between populations of organisms. We saw significantly higher levels of AR in bacteria from production versus household birds; resistance to either amoxicillin-clavulanate, cephalothin, cefotaxime, and gentamicin was found in 52.8% of production bird isolates and 16% of household ones. A strain jointly resistant to the 4 drugs was exclusive to a subset of isolates from production birds (7.6%) and coop surfaces (6.5%) and was associated with a particular purchase site. The prevalence of AR in production birds declined with bird age (P 0.01 for all antibiotics tested except tetracycline, sulfisoxazole, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole). Farming status did not impact AR in domestic environments at the household or village level. Our results suggest that AR associated with small-scale poultry farming is present in the immediate production environment and likely originates from sources outside the study area. These outside sources might be a better place to target control efforts than local management practices.
Copyright © 2016 Braykov et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.