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Effect Of Abolishment Of The Use Of Antimicrobial Agents For Growth Promotion On Occurrence Of Antimicrobial Resistance In Fecal Enterococci From Food Animals In Denmark

Frank Møller Aarestrup, Anne Mette Seyfarth, Hanne-Dorthe Emborg, Karl Pedersen, René S. Hendriksen, Flemming Bager

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ABSTRACT From 1995 to 2000, a total of 673 Enterococcus faecium and 1,088 Enterococcus faecalis isolates from pigs together with 856 E. faecium isolates from broilers were isolated and tested for susceptibility to four classes of antimicrobial agents used for growth promotion as part of the Danish program of monitoring for antimicrobial resistance. The four antimicrobials were avilamycin, erythromycin, vancomycin, and virginiamycin. Major changes in the use of antimicrobial agents for growth promotion have occurred during the last 6 years in Denmark. The government banned the use of avoparcin in 1995 and of virginiamycin in 1998. Furthermore, the producers have voluntarily stopped all use beginning in 1999. The avoparcin ban in 1995 was followed by a decrease in the occurrence of glycopeptide-resistant E. faecium (GRE) in broilers, from 72.7% in 1995 to 5.8% in 2000. The occurrence of glycopeptide resistance among isolates from pigs remained constant at around 20% from 1995 to 1997. It was shown that, in GRE from pigs, the genes encoding macrolide and glycopeptide resistance were genetically linked and that, following the decrease in the use of tylosin during 1998 and 1999, the occurrence of GRE in pigs decreased to 6.0% in 2000. From 1995 to 1997 the occurrence of erythromycin resistance among E. faecium and E. faecalis isolates from pigs was almost 90%. Use of tylosin decreased considerably during 1998 and 1999, and this decrease was followed by decreases in the occurrence of resistance to 46.7 and 28.1% among E. faecium and E. faecalis isolates from pigs, respectively. Erythromycin resistance among E. faecium isolates from broilers reached a maximum of 76.3% in 1997 but decreased to 12.7% in 2000 concomitantly with more limited use of virginiamycin. Use of virginiamycin increased from 1995 to 1997 and was followed by an increased occurrence of virginiamycin resistance among E. faecium isolates in broilers, from 27.3% in 1995 to 66.2% in 1997. In January 1998 the use of virginiamycin was banned in Denmark, and the occurrence of virginiamycin resistance decreased to 33.9% in 2000. Use of avilamycin increased from 1995 to 1996 and was followed by an increase in avilamycin resistance among E. faecium isolates from broilers, from 63.6% in 1995 to 77.4% in 1996. Since 1996 avilamycin usage has decreased, followed by a decrease in resistance to 4.8% in 2000. Our observations show that it is possible to reduce the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in a national population of food animals when the selective pressure is removed. Cases in which resistance to vancomycin was linked to resistance to erythromycin were exceptions. In such cases resistance did not decrease until the use of both avoparcin and tylosin was limited.