Objective—To compare apparent prevalence and patterns of antimicrobial resistance in Campylobacter spp in feces collected from pigs reared with antimicrobial-free versus conventional production methods in 8 states in the Midwestern United States.
Sample Population—95 swine farms that used antimicrobial-free (n = 35) or conventional (60) production methods.
Procedures—Fecal samples from 15 pigs/farm were collected. Biochemical and multiplex-PCR analyses were used to identify Campylobacter spp. The minimal inhibitory concentrations of erythromycin, azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, nalidixic acid, gentamicin, and tetracycline for these organisms were determined by use of a commercially available antimicrobial gradient strip. The data were analyzed by use of population-averaged statistical models.
Results—Campylobacter spp were isolated from 512 of 1,422 pigs. A subset (n = 464) of the 512 isolates was available for antimicrobial susceptibility testing. The apparent prevalence of Campylobacter spp isolates from pigs on conventional farms (35.8%) and antimicrobial-free farms (36.4%) did not differ significantly. Resistances to azithromycin, erythromycin, and tetracycline were significantly higher on conventional farms (70.0%, 68.3%, and 74.5%, respectively) than antimicrobial-free farms (20.1%, 21.3%, and 48.8%, respectively). Resistances to azithromycin, erythromycin, and tetracycline declined as the number of years that a farm was antimicrobial-free increased.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Production method did not affect the apparent prevalence of Campylobacter spp on swine farms. However, antimicrobial-free farms had a significantly lower prevalence of antimicrobial resistance. Although cessation of antimicrobial drug use will lower resistance over time, investigation of other interventions designed to reduce resistance levels is warranted.