Increasing antibiotic resistance is a major public health concern. Fluoroquinolones are used to treat and prevent poultry diseases worldwide. Fluoroquinolone resistance rates are high in their countries of use. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of an acids-based feed additive, as well as fluoroquinolone antibiotics, on the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli. A total of 480 broiler chickens (Ross 308) were randomly assigned to 3 treatments: a control group receiving a basal diet; a group receiving a feed additive (FA) based on formic acid, acetic acid and propionic acid; and an antibiotic enrofloxacin (AB) group given the same diet, but supplemented with enrofloxacin in water. A pooled fecal sample of one-day-old chicks was collected upon arrival at the experimental farm. On d 17 and d 38 of the trial, cecal samples from each of the 8 pens were taken, and the count of E. coli and antibiotic-resistant E. coli was determined.
The results of the present study show a high prevalence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli in one-day-old chicks. Supplementation of the diet with FA and treatment of broilers with AB did not have a significant influence on the total number of E. coli in the cecal content on d 17 and d 38 of the trial. Supplementation with FA contributed to better growth performance and to a significant decrease (P ≤ 0.05) in E. coli resistant to ampicillin and tetracycline compared to the control and AB groups, as well as to a decrease (P ≤ 0.05) in sulfamethoxazole and ciprofloxacin-resistant E. coli compared to the AB group. Treatment with AB increased (P ≤ 0.05) the average daily weight compared to the control group and increased (P ≤ 0.05) the number of E. coli resistant to ciprofloxacin, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole and tetracycline; it also decreased (P ≤ 0.05) the number of E. coli resistant to cefotaxime and extended spectrum beta-lactamase- (ESBL-) producing E. coli in the ceca of broilers.