Extended-Spectrum ß-Lactamase-Producing Escherichia coli in Conventional and Organic Pig Fattening Farms
Antimicrobial resistance is an increasing global problem and complicates successful treatments of bacterial infections in animals and humans. We conducted a longitudinal study in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to compare the occurrence of ESBL-producing Escherichia (E.) coli in three conventional and four organic pig farms. ESBL-positive E. coli, especially of the CTX-M type, were found in all fattening farms, confirming that antimicrobial resistance is widespread in pig fattening and affects both conventional and organic farms. The percentage of ESBL-positive pens was significantly higher on conventional (55.2%) than on organic farms (44.8%) with similar proportions of ESBL-positive pens on conventional farms (54.3–61.9%) and a wide variation (7.7–84.2%) on organic farms. Metadata suggest that the farms of origin, from which weaner pigs were purchased, had a major influence on the occurrence of ESBL-producing E. coli in the fattening farms. Resistance screening showed that the proportion of pens with multidrug-resistant E. coli was similar on conventional (28.6%) and organic (31.5%) farms. The study shows that ESBL-positive E. coli play a major role in pig production and that urgent action is needed to prevent their spread.