Antimicrobial resistance has become a major global public health concern, and agricultural operations are often implicated as a source of resistant bacteria. This study characterized the prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli from a total of 443 manure composite samples from preweaned calves, postweaned calves, dry cows, and lactating cows from 80 dairy operations in Pennsylvania. A total of 1095 S. enterica and 2370 E. coli isolates were screened and tested for resistance to 14 antimicrobials on the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System Gram-negative (NARMS GN) panel. Salmonellae were isolated from 67% of dairy operations, and 99% of the isolates were pan-susceptible. Salmonella were isolated more frequently from lactating and dry cow samples than from pre- and postweaned calf samples. Overall, the most prevalent serotypes were Cerro, Montevideo, Kentucky, and Newport. E. coli were isolated from all the manure composite samples, and isolates were commonly resistant to tetracyclines, sulfonamides, and aminoglycosides. Resistance was detected more frequently in the E. coli isolates from pre- and postweaned calf samples than in isolates from dry and lactating cow samples (p < 0.05). Multidrug-resistant E. coli (i.e., resistant to >3 antimicrobial classes) were isolated from 66 farms (83%) with significantly greater prevalence in preweaned calves (p < 0.05) than in the older age groups. The bla CTX-M and bla CMY genes were detected in the cephalosporin-resistant E. coli from 4% and 35% of the farms, respectively. These findings indicate that dairy animals, especially the calf population, serve as significant reservoirs for antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. Additional research on the colonization and persistence of resistant E. coli in calves is warranted to identify potential avenues for mitigation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Animal Science and Zoology