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American Journal of Environmental Sciences
Year: 2009  |  Volume: 5  |  Issue: 1  |  Page No.: 47 - 52

Antibiotic Resistance of Escherichia Coli Isolated From Poultry and Poultry Environment of Bangladesh

Muhammad Ali Akond, S.M.R. Hassan, Saidul Alam and Momena Shirin    

Abstract: Problem Statement: Increased emergence in microbial resistance to antibiotics is a growing problem in Bangladesh, a tropical country with a large agrarian population having limited medical facilities. Wide spread use of antimicrobials in poultry farming here is a concern of multi-drug microbial resistance development that can potentially be transmitted to human pathogens even from non-pathogenic carrier strains. Attempt was made to assess drug susceptibility in Escherichia coli from poultry sources of Bangladesh. Approach: Eighty selected strains isolated from poultry sources were thoroughly characterized by standard cultural and biochemical tests followed by final identification using latex agglutination test of polyvalent anti-sera, from which 50 were tested for susceptibility to 13 antibiotics following disk diffusion method. Results: 145 (58%) samples, out of total 250, were found positive for E. coli. 52-88% of tested E. coli strains from poultry sources were found resistant to Penicillin, Ciprofloxacin, Riphampicin, Kanamycin, Streptomycin, Cefixine, Erythromycin, Ampicillin, Tetracycline, and 20% strains showed resistance to both Chloramphenicol and Neomycin. No strains showed resistance to Norfloxacin and Gentamicin. Sensitivity was recorded in case of 60-86% strains to Norfloxacin, Gentamicin, Chloramphenicol, and Neomycin; and 26-36% strains against Tetracycline, Streptomycin, and Ampicillin. Intermediate resistance/ susceptibility to various antibiotics were observed for 12-36% Escherichia coli strains. Both, resistance and susceptibility were exhibited against Chloramphenicol, Ampicillin, Gentamicin, Neomycin, Tetracycline, Streptomycin and Norfloxacin. Multi drug resistance was found in case of 6-10 antibiotics for all strains tested. Conclusion: Further study is required on the role of poultry borne bacteria as vectors in transmitting drug resistance. Attention is to be paid for personnel hygiene in processing and handling of poultry and poultry products; and excess use or abuse of antibiotics should be reduced or stopped by the judicious application of antibiotics for the safety of public health in Bangladesh.

Table 1 and 2, respectively. 58% of total samples were found E. coli positive. The incidence range of all 5 types of sample sources found was from 42% in egg surfaces to 82% in feces.

Antibiotic susceptibility pattern of E. coli isolates from samples of poultry sources has been outlined in Table 3. Resistance spectrum of E. coli for 13 antibiotics tested in descending order was respectively Penicillin, Ciprofloxacin, Riphampicin, Kanamycin, Streptomycin, Cefixine, Erythromycin, Ampicillin, Tetracycline, and Chloramphenicol and Neomycin, with ranges of percent strains resistant from 20% in case of neomycin and 88% for penicillin (Table 3). No strain was found either sensitive to erythromycin, riphampicin, kanamycin, cefixine, penicillin and ciprofloxacin or resistant to gentamycin and norfloxacin (Table 3).

Table 1: Distribution of Escherichia coli in various samples from poultry and poultry environments of Bangladesh

Table 2: Biochemical tests used for identification of Escherichia coli
G -= gram negative; BCMS = black centered colony with metallic sheen; + = 90 to 100% of the isolates were positive; - = 0 to 10% of the isolates were positive.

Moreover, 12-36% strains were found intermediate resistant to 11 antibiotics out of total 13 tested. All 50 isolates examined in this study showed multiple resistances to at least 6 up to 10 antibiotics. The highest sensitivity was recorded for the antibiotic norfloxacin in 86% of the strains tested and it was followed respectively by chloramphenicol and gentamycin 80%, neomycin 60%, tetracycline 36%, streptomycin 30% and ampicillin 26%.


The prevalence of E. coli in 82% of fecal samples in the present study was higher than the previous records of Rahman et al.[23]. The egg surface was contaminated with E. coli probably from poultry feeds and/ with feces during lay in unhygienic condition or also from infected poultry. Among the animal protein ingredients, a major ingredient of poultry feeds, locally processed cheap fish wastes were found to be important causes for bacterial contamination of poultry feeds[24].

Table 3: Antibiotic susceptibility pattern of 50 selected strains of Escherichia coli

E. coli was reported as a common microflora in raw feeding materials and poultry feeds[25]. Present study showed a high percentage of egg surface samples 42% contained E. coli. The pre-stuffed chickens in poultry shops, poultry and poultry products like eggs and plastic-wrapped poultry meat in various super shops get contaminated easily by E. coli for the careless unhygienic handling process and ready-to-eat foods become cross contaminated with E. coli as well as other pathogenic bacteria from food handlers with poor personal hygiene and from other raw poultry products.

Resistance of E. coli isolates from Malaysian broiler chicken to ampicillin, tetracycline and gentamicin with 11-95% range has been reported[26]. Rahman et al.[23] reported E. coli isolates from broiler and layer poultry in Bangladesh were found resistant to chloramphenicol, ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, tetracycline and streptomycin in 37-87.5% cases; and 50-66.6% strains highly sensitive to chloramphenicol and gentamicin. 66-100% E. coli strains from poultry in Bangladesh showed resistance to tetracycline, penicillin, erythromycin and chloramphenicol[27]. Tricia et al.[28] reported 43% isolates of E. coli were resistant to ampicillin but no isolate was found resistant to gentamicin, which is in agreement with this present study. Daini and Adesemowo[29] found the resistance of E. coli from Nigeria in 54 and 88% strains against gentamicin and tetracycline respectively.

All the isolates of present study exhibited multiple resistances to more than six antibiotics. Similar findings on multiple drug resistance of E. coli strains has been reported from Bangladesh and other parts of the world[23,30-32]. Due to indiscriminate exploitation of antimicrobial agents, such high incidence of multi drug resistance may apparently be occurred which may ultimately replace the drug sensitive microorganisms from antibiotic saturated environment[11].

Reduction in the frequency of vancomycine resistant Enterococci from broilers from 80-5% due to ban imposed on avoparcin as a feed additive for poultry in Denmark[33] justifies encountering this resistance emergence with reduced and judicious application of antibiotics in animal farming and clinical purposes.


Risk assessment should reflect the increasing weight of scientific evidence indicating the potential for even non-pathogens carrying and transferring genetic determinants for antibiotics resistance to human pathogens, cross-resistance development, and potential link between resistance to critical antibiotics in human medicine and use of similar drugs in poultry feeds. Appropriate use of antibiotics in humans and farm animals needs to be addressed in Bangladesh and other countries.


The authors are thankful to the Lab of Microbiology, Department of Botany, Jahangirnagar University and Bacteriology Laboratory, Institute of Public Health (IPH), Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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