Background: The project "Antibiotic resistance in bacteria of animal origin - II" (ARBAO-II) was funded by the European Union (FAIR5-QLK2-2002-01146) for the period 2003-05. The aim of this project was to establish a program for the continuous monitoring of antimicrobial susceptibility of pathogenic and indicator bacteria from food animals using validated and harmonised methodologies. In this report the first data on the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance among bacteria causing infections in pigs are reported.
Methods: Susceptibility data from 17,642 isolates of pathogens and indicator bacteria including Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, Streptococcus suis and Escherichia coli isolated from pigs were collected from fifteen European countries in 2002-2004.
Results: Data for A. pleuropneumoniae from infected pigs were submitted from five countries. Most of the isolates from Denmark were susceptible to all drugs tested with the exceptions of a low frequency of resistance to tetracycline and trimethoprim - sulphonamide.
Data for S. suis were obtained from six countries. In general, a high level of resistance to tetracycline (48.0 - 92.0%) and erythromycin (29.1 - 75.0%) was observed in all countries whereas the level of resistance to ciprofloxacin and penicillin differed between the reporting countries. Isolates from England (and Wales), France and The Netherlands were all susceptible to penicillin. In contrast the proportion of strains resistant to ciprofloxacin ranged from 12.6 to 79.0% (2004) and to penicillin from 8.1 - 13.0% (2004) in Poland and Portugal.
Data for E. coli from infected and healthy pigs were obtained from eleven countries. The data reveal a high level of resistance to tetracyclines, streptomycin and ampicillin among infected pigs whereas in healthy pigs the frequency of resistance was lower.
Conclusion: Bacterial resistance to some antimicrobials was frequent with different levels of resistance being observed to several antimicrobial agents in different countries. The occurrence of resistance varied distinctly between isolates from healthy and diseased pigs, with the isolates from healthy pigs generally showing a lower level of resistance than those from diseased pigs.
The study suggests that the choice of antimicrobials used for the treatment of diseased animals should preferably be based on knowledge of the local pattern of resistance.