Identification of risk factors associated with resistant escherichia coli isolates from poultry farms in the east coast of peninsular Malaysia: a cross sectional study

Sharifo Ali Elmi, David Simons, Linzy Elton, Najmul Haider, Muzamil Mahdi Abdel Hamid, Yassir Adam Shuaib, Mohd Azam Khan, Iekhsan Othman, Richard Kock, Abdinasir Yusuf Osman

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Antimicrobial resistance is of concern to global health security worldwide. We aimed to identify the prevalence, resistance patterns, and risk factors associated with Escherichia coli (E. coli) resistance from poultry farms in Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang states of east coast peninsular Malaysia. Between 8 February 2019 and 23 February 2020, a total of 371 samples (cloacal swabs = 259; faecal = 84; Sewage = 14, Tap water = 14) were collected. Characteristics of the sampled farms including management type, biosecurity, and history of disease were obtained using semi-structured questionnaire. Presumptive E. coli isolates were identified based on colony morphology with subsequent biochemical and PCR confirmation. Susceptibility of isolates was tested against a panel of 12 antimicrobials and interpreted alongside risk factor data obtained from the surveys. We isolated 717 E. coli samples from poultry and environmental samples. Our findings revealed that cloacal (17.8%, 46/259), faecal (22.6%, 19/84), sewage (14.3%, 2/14) and tap water (7.1%, 1/14) were significantly (p < 0.003) resistant to at least three classes of antimicrobials. Resistance to tetracycline class were predominantly observed in faecal samples (69%, 58/84), followed by cloacal (64.1%, 166/259), sewage (35.7%, 5/14), and tap water (7.1%, 1/84), respectively. Sewage water (OR = 7.22, 95% CI = 0.95–151.21) had significant association with antimicrobial resistance (AMR) acquisition. Multivariate regression analysis identified that the risk factors including sewage samples (OR = 7.43, 95% CI = 0.96–156.87) and farm size are leading drivers of E. coli antimicrobial resistance in the participating states of east coast peninsular Malaysia. We observed that the resistance patterns of E. coli isolates against 12 panel antimicrobials are generally similar in all selected states of east coast peninsular Malaysia. The highest prevalence of resistance was recorded in tetracycline (91.2%), oxytetracycline (89.1%), sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (73.1%), doxycycline (63%), and sulfamethoxazole (63%). A close association between different risk factors and the high prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant E. coli strains reflects increased exposure to resistant bacteria and suggests a concern over rising misuse of veterinary antimicrobials that may contribute to the future threat of emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogen isolates. Public health interventions to limit antimicrobial resistance need to be tailored to local poultry farm practices that affect bacterial transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Antimicrobial resistant
  • Distribution
  • East coast of peninsular Malaysia
  • Environment
  • Escherichia coli
  • Poultry farms

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