Epidemiology and Infection

Research Article

A comparison of multiple drug resistance in salmonellas from humans and food animals in England and Wales, 1981 and 1990

E. J. Threlfalla1, B. Rowea1 and L. R. Warda1

a1 Laboratory of Enteric Pathogens, Central Public Health Laboratory, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5HT


For Salmonella typhimurium from humans in England and Wales, the incidence of multiple resistance more than doubled over the 8-year period 1981–8 and, over the next 2 years, increased by a further 7%. From 1981 to 1988 both resistance and multiple resistance also increased significantly in S. virchow and although multiple resistance did not increase over the next 2 years, the overall incidence of resistance has continued to rise. In 1990 the majority of S. typhimurium from cattle were multiply-resistant and the occurrence of such resistance has quadrupled since 1981. Multiple resistance has also increased in S. typhimurium from pigs and, to a lesser extent, from poultry. In contrast, multiple resistance has remained uncommon in the poultry-associated serotype S. enteritidis. For S. virchow, multiple resistance was common in a phage type frequently associated with poultry meat imported from France.

The continuing use of a range of different antimicrobials in calf husbandry has been an important factor in promoting the emergence of multiply-resistant strains of S. typhimurium in cattle. In contrast, multiple resistance has remained rare in those serotypes associated with poultry, where the use of such antimicrobials has been less intensive.

It is hoped that recent recommendations discouraging, in veterinary medicine, the prophylactic use of antibiotics with cross resistances to those used in human medicine will result in a reduction in the occurrence of multiresistant strains in food animals and subsequently in humans.

(Accepted April 01 1993)