BACKGROUND: Drugs for the treatment of groups of pigs receiving liquid feed are frequently mixed into the feed and administered via the pipelines of the feeding installations. In-feed antimicrobials may select antimicrobial resistant strains among the bacteria which form the biofilm of these pipelines and are shed into the liquid feed.
OBJECTIVE AND METHODS: In order to evaluate the risk of selecting antimicrobial resistant bacteria in the biofilm of liquid feeding installations, the effect of the administration of antimicrobials via the pipelines on the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in the feed was examined in a case-control study. A premix containing either sulphonamide plus trimethoprim or sulphonamide plus chlortetracycline plus tylosin or chlortetracycline was administered via the pipelines to each batch of bought-in fattening pigs in 7, 3 and 3 case farms respectively, whereas antimicrobials had not been administered via the liquid feeding installation for at least 2 years in the 14 control farms. Enterobacteriaceae and sulphonamide-trimethoprim resistant Enterobacteriaceae were counted in twelve and eight feed samples collected in each case and in each control farm respectively during one fattening period. The semiparametric Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) method was used for the statistical data analysis.
RESULTS: The ratio of sulphonamide and trimethoprim resistant to total Enterobacteriaceae was higher in the feed of the case farms compared to the control farms (P < 0.001) and did not decrease after treatment during the fattening period.
CONCLUSION: The administration of antimicrobials via the liquid feeding installation selects antibiotic resistant bacteria in the biofilm lining the pipelines, which may contaminate the liquid feed for extended periods and transmit their resistance genes to the gastrointestinal flora of the pigs. Alternatives to the administration of antimicrobials via pipelines of liquid feeding installations for group treatment should be developed.