Normal intestinal flora of humans and animals constitute enormous reservoir of resistance genes for potentially pathogenic bacteria and may serve as major indictors of selection pressure exerted by anti-microbial use in a given population. A study was conducted in September 2003 at 3 purposively selected peri-urban sites spread across 3 senatorial zones of Imo state, Nigeria to determines the anti-microbial resistance profile of commensal E. coli isolated from free range chickens. The isolates were screened for anti-microbial resistance profile against 10 antibiotics using the disc diffusion method. E. coli strains from local fowls, recorded 100 and 78.9% resistances against ampicillin and cotrimoxazole respectively, while resistance rates against ciprofloxacin, gentamycin and norfloxacin were 0.0, 5.3 and 5.3% respectively. Isolates from free-range cockerels recorded 100% resistance against norfloxacin, cotrimoxazole and ampicillin and 83.3% against nitrofurantoin. Similarly, isolates from old layers, recorded 100% resistance against nitrofurantoin, cotrimoxazole, tetracycline, chloramphenicol and ampicillin and 80% against nalidixic acid. Similar resistance trends were observed in E. coli isolates from free-range turkeys and broiler roosters against the inexpensive broad-spectrum first line antibiotics (ampicillin, nalidixic acid, cotrimoxazole, nitrofurantoin and chloramphenicol), although values varied slightly across poultry types. Resistances against gentamycin were consistently low in isolates from the different types of poultry. Twenty-nine resistance patterns were observed in the E. coli isolates with predominant patterns being distributed widely across poultry types indicating a striking diversity of resistance patterns in the areas
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