Is Your Poultry Pushing You Towards a Post-Antibiotic Era?
We are already facing the very real possibility of a post-antibiotic world due to the rising number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
At the same time, the growing population numbers and the proportionate increase in the demand for food has led to antimicrobial growth promotion (AGP) use in farm animals worldwide.
A study conducted by the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) across 18 poultry farms in six districts in Punjab has detected high prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in two-third of the farms surveyed.
The results of the study are alarming because the poultry was tested for resistance to a range of antibiotics critical to human medicine.
The major concern is that extensive use of antibiotics in agriculture results in human exposure to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria via direct and indirect pathways.
What is Antibiotic Resistance?
Has it ever happened to you that the medicine that cured your skin infection, doesn’t cure it anymore? Or the antibiotics that you had for urinary tract infection (UTI) don’t help anymore?
If the answer is yes, then the chances are pretty high that the bacteria that caused the infection has become resistant to the medicine now.
The reason this happens and you should care is because pretty soon you might run out of medicine to cure such simple ailments.
So the medicine which is supposed to kill the bacteria, has no effect on it at all!
This phenomenon is growing at an alarming rate due to rampant and inappropriate use of antibiotics across the spectrum.
The study, which is the largest of its kind ever to be conducted in India, revealed that two-third of the poultry farms surveyed in Punjab were using antibiotics for growth promotion.
Meat producing farms were found to have twice the rates of antimicrobial resistance as compared to egg-producing farms.
Speaking to The Quint, Ramanan Laxminarayan, CDDEP Director, who has also authored the study, said:
This unregulated use also made the bacteria multidrug resistant i.e. their resistance was growing against more and more types of antibiotics.
The study also revealed high levels of resistance to many important antibiotics used to treat human infections.
This is definitely not good news since it means that more and more antibiotics would be rendered useless in the treatment of such infections.
Unfortunately in India, the use of antibiotics in food animal production is unregulated. This means that healthy poultry is being fed things which are high in antibiotic content, which in turn is making the bacteria resistant.
The results of this study could also be extended to the other states and the results could be quite disastrous.
The study also tested Escherichia coli (E.coli) samples from across the poultry farms.
This might mean that the remaining 40 percent might soon become antibiotic resistant, thanks to resistance conferring genes of the others!
The study has serious local and global implications.
Since the antibiotics are being mixed with the food being fed to farm animals, it is very important to nip the problem in the bud. Lack of regulation is the main reason for such inappropriate and rampant use of antibiotics.
Countries like the US have strict regulations for using antibiotics for any purpose.
It is high time that India has strict guidelines for use of antibiotics since the bacteria here are known to have developed resistance to 87% of the available antibiotics!
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