Lower Prevalence of Antibiotic Resistance on Newly Organic Poultry Farms

2 October 2011

A study published this month in Environmental Health Perspectives has found lower antibiotic resistance on newly organic farms compared to conventional farms in the US.

In conventional poultry production, antimicrobials are used for therapeutic, prophylactic and non-therapeutic purposes. Researchers have shown that this can select for antibiotic-resistant commensal and pathogenic bacteria on poultry farms and poultry-derived products. The following study investigated on-farm changes in resistance as conventional poultry farms converted to organic practices and ceased using antibiotics.

Litter, feed and water samples were tested from 10 conventional and 10 newly converted organic farms. The percentages of resistant E. faecalis and resistant E. faecium were significantly lower (p<0.05) among isolates from newly organic versus conventional houses for two (erythromycin and tylosin) and five,(ciprofloxacin, gentamicin, nitrofurantoin, penicillin and tetracycline) antimicrobials respectively.

Forty-two percent of E. faecalis isolates from conventional poultry houses were multi-drug resistant (MDR) (to¡Ý3 antimicrobial classes) compared to 10% of isolates from newly organic houses (p=0.02), and 84% of E. faecium isolates from conventional houses were MDR compared to 17% of isolates from newly organic poultry houses (p<0.001).

The authors concluded that the transition to organic practices is associated with a lower prevalence of antibiotic resistant and multi-drug resistant Enterococcus.

Sapkota AR, Hulet RM, Zhang G, McDermott P, Kinney E, Schwab K, et al. 2011. Lower Prevalence of Antibiotic-resistant Enterococci On U.S. Conventional Poultry Farms That Transitioned to Organic Practices. Environ Health Perspect :-. doi:10.1289/ehp.1003350

Vaccination Nation

20 July 2006

Detailed analysis by ORC of the arguments for preventive vaccination of outdoor poultry against H5N1 avian influenza was presented at a House of Commons reception today (July 19th 2006). The compelling evidence assembled by the policy team points to preventive vaccination as the only method available that enables UK outdoor poultry to live, thrive and survive if H5N1 does become endemic in wild birds here. The full report – Vaccination Nation – is available as a PDF here…

A King-sized cock-up…

19 May 2006

UK Government chief scientific adviser Sir David King is set to consign organic and free range poultry to oblivion, says ORC Director Lawrence Woodward. Sir David has discarded preventative vaccination as a sure, proven and scientifically robust way of protecting outdoor poultry from the virus…

Download article here.

Avian flu haunts Europe – Latest info on Avian flu…

21 Feb 2006

Officially the level of risk of Avian Flu arriving in wild birds in the UK this Spring is still low. But, even if we escape infection in the next few weeks, there is growing concern that waterfowl returning to these shores in Autumn 2006 will carry the virus. Is it now time to push for preventive vaccination?

Download article here.

Avian ‘flu briefing – A sense of proportion in a world gone Avian ‘Flu mad

16 Nov 2005

For the moment the UK’s avian ‘flu “panic pandemic” of late October has subsided. No more quarantine parrot casualties have fuelled the media frenzy on just how many million of us are destined to die from a disease which has yet to mutate to present a human pandemic threat. And still the numbers game continues with the World Bank assessing a global economic bill from an avian ‘flu pandemic of over £450 billion. The bank is to spend some £600 million on measures to combat its spread.

Meanwhile, avian ‘flu has yet to be confirmed within the boundaries of the EU after tests failed to show the H5N1 strain in samples from Greece. Across the world, mostly in S E Asia, it is now reckoned that less than 70 people have caught the disease from infected poultry and subsequently died. A similar number have been infected and survived; no cases of human to human transmission have been diagnosed or documented. The world desperately needs to develop a sense of proportion on avian ’flu.

The points outlined in this article are based on the best available information. There is no complacency at ORC on this serious issue, just a real desire to deal with facts not fantasy and hype.

Download article here.


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