OTTAWA, Alberta – The prevalence of ciprofloxacin-resistant Campylobacter in retail chicken is increasing and cause for concern, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported. Ciprofloxacin is a fluoroquinolone antimicrobial drug used to treat human campylobacteriosis.

From 2005 to 2010, the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS), Public Health Agency of Canada, collected samples of fresh chicken, beef and pork from retail stores throughout Canada. Testing revealed that drug-resistance among Campylobacter isolates from retail chicken had increased, especially in samples from chicken purchased in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Additionally, researchers found that a high proportion of ciprofloxacin-resistant Campylobacter isolates were also resistant to tetracycline.

CIPARS attributed the overall increase in ciprofloxacin resistance in retail chicken to several factors, including antimicrobial drug use in broiler breeder and broiler chickens, and chicken imports.

"The Public Health Agency of Canada is concerned by the emergence of resistance to ciprofloxacin, which is critically important for the treatment of Camplylobacter spp. infection in humans," the agency said in its report. "Extra-label use of fluoroquinolones in the broiler breeder or broiler chickens sector might have contributed to the emergence of this resistance. The role of importation of poultry products as a potential source of resistant strains requires further investigation."

The Public Health Agency of Canada's findings were published inthe June issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.