Characterization of erythromycin resistance in Campylobacter coli and Campylobacter jejuni isolated from pig offal in New Zealand

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To determine the level and mechanism(s) of antimicrobial resistance in Campylobacter isolates obtained from human and environmental sources from South Canterbury, New Zealand.

Methods and Results

A total of 251 Campylobacter isolates were tested for susceptibility to ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, nalidixic acid and tetracycline using disc diffusion assays. Five pig offal isolates were observed to be highly erythromycin resistant, with minimal inhibitory concentrations determined to be ≥256 μg ml−1. Nucleotide sequencing of the 23S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) in these resistant isolates identified an A → G change at Escherichia coli position 2059 that has been previously implicated in erythromycin resistance in Campylobacter coli. Macrorestriction profiling using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis showed these isolates were nonclonal.


The majority of Campylobacter isolates from South Canterbury remain sensitive to the most clinically relevant antimicrobial agents. Our results support other reports showing that specific variations in the 23S rDNA contribute to erythromycin resistance.

Significance and Impacts of the Study

This study defines the baseline frequency of antimicrobial resistance associated with Campylobacter isolates from South Canterbury, and discusses the likely molecular mechanisms conferring erythromycin resistance in this organism. Resistance to erythromycin in these isolates is not linked to a dominant Campylobacter clone and has likely arisen independently in different genetic lines exposed to selective antimicrobial pressure.

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