Antimicrobial resistance and prevalence of virulence factor genes in fecal Escherichia coli of Holstein calves fed milk with and without antimicrobials

R. V V Pereira, T. M A Santos, M. L. Bicalho, L. S. Caixeta, V. S. Machado, R. C. Bicalho

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26 Scopus citations


Diarrhea in calves has a significant effect on the dairy industry. A common management practice for preventing or decreasing the effects of such disease in preweaned calves is by the use of antimicrobials in milk or milk replacer. In this study, Escherichia coli antimicrobial resistance in fecal samples collected from calves 2 to 8 d of age that had or had not received antimicrobials in the milk and that had or had not signs of diarrhea by inspection of fecal consistency were investigated. Specifically, resistance of E. coli isolates to individual antimicrobials, multiresistance patterns, and presence of virulence factors were analyzed. Escherichia coli isolates were tested for susceptibility to 12 antimicrobials by use of a Kirby-Bauer disk diffusion assay. The study was conducted at 3 farms, 1 administering growth-promoting antimicrobials (GPA) in the milk and 2 not using GPA in the milk (NGPA). All isolates were susceptible to ciprofloxacin and cefepime. From the total isolates tested, 84% (n = 251) were resistant to at least 2 antimicrobials and 81% (n = 251) were resistant to 3 or more antimicrobials. When antimicrobial resistance was compared between GPA and NGPA, it was observed that the GPA group had higher odds of antimicrobial resistance for most of the individual antimicrobials tested. No significant correlation of virulence factors in GPA or NGPA and diarrheic or non-diarrheic (control) fecal samples was found. Of the 32 virulence factors evaluated, 21 were detected in the study population; the incidence of only 1 virulence factor was statistically significant in each of the diarrheic status (diarrheic or non-diarrheic) and treatment status (NGPA or GPA) groups. Phylogenetic analysis based on the nucleotide sequence of the DNA gyrase gene (gyrB) from 31 fecal E. coli isolates revealed 3 main clades.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4556-4565
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Dairy calf
  • Diarrhea
  • Escherichia coli


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