Effect of tetracycline dose and treatment-mode on selection of resistant coliform bacteria in nursery pigs

Kaare Græsbøll, Peter Damborg, Anders Mellerup, Ana Herrero Fresno, Inge Larsen, Anders Holm, Jens Peter Nielsen, Lasse Engbo Christiansen, Øystein Angen, Shahana Ahmed, Anders Folkesson, John Elmerdahl Olsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

716 Downloads (Pure)


This study describes results of a randomized clinical trial investigating the effect of oxytetracycline treatment dose and mode of administration on selection of antibiotic resistant coliform bacteria in fecal samples from nursery pigs. Nursery pigs (pigs of 4-7 weeks of age) were treated with oxytetracycline against Lawsonia intracellularis induced diarrhea in five pig herds. Each group was randomly allocated to one of five treatment groups: oral flock treatment with (i) high (20 mg/kg), (ii) medium (10 mg/kg) and (iii) low (5 mg/kg) dosage, (iv) oral-pen-wise (small group) treatment (10 mg/kg), and (v) individual intramuscular injection treatment (10mg/kg). All groups were treated once a day for five days. In all groups, treatment caused a rise in numbers and proportion of tetracycline resistant coliform bacteria right after treatment, followed by a significant drop by the time where pigs left the nursery unit. Counts and proportion of tetracycline-resistant coliforms did not vary significantly between treatment groups, except immediately after treatment, where the highest treatment dose resulted in the highest number of resistant coliforms. A control group treated with tiamuline did not show significant changes in number or proportion of tetracycline resistant coliforms. Selection for tetracycline-resistant coliforms was significantly correlated to selection for ampicillin- and sulfonamide-resistant, but not to cefotaxime-resistant strains. In conclusion, difference in dose of oxytetracycline and the way the drug was applied did not cause significantly different selection of tetracycline resistant coliform bacteria, under the conditions tested.IMPORTANCE Antimicrobial resistance is a global treat to human health. Treatment of livestock with antimicrobials has a direct impact on this problem, and there is a need to improve the ways that we use antimicrobial in livestock production. We hypothesized that antibiotic resistance development following treatment of diarrhea in nursery pigs could be reduced by either lowering the dose of oxytetracycline or by replacing the commonly used practice of flock treatment with individual or small group treatments, since this would reduce the number of pigs treated. However, the study showed no significant difference between treatment-groups with respect to the number or proportion of tetracycline resistant coliforms selected. The most important conclusion is that under the practical field conditions, there will be no added value in terms of lowering resistance development by exchanging flock treatment with individual or small group treatment of nursery pigs. The reason for lack of effect of single animal treatment is probably that such animals share the environment with treated animals and take up resistant bacteria from the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00538-17
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Dose
  • Flock treatment
  • Nursery pigs
  • Tetracyclines


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of tetracycline dose and treatment-mode on selection of resistant coliform bacteria in nursery pigs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this