Bugged poultry

With bacteria resistant to antibiotics

Published: Thursday 15 January 2004

-- (Credit: EMKAY)more than 40 per cent of bacteria found in meat on sale in Switzerland are resistant to at least one antibiotic, shows a research. The findings have grave implications -- the bacteria, campylobacter, are responsible for 14 per cent of annual diarrhoea diseases across the world. In Switzerland, one out of every 1,000 individuals suffers from campylobacter infection every year; the number is approximately ten times higher in the us.

Researchers from the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office collected 415 raw poultry meat samples from 122 retail outlets. They then isolated 91 strains of campylobacter, 59 per cent of which were sensitive to all the antibiotics tested. But 19 strains (22 per cent) were resistant to one antibiotic, nine strains (10 per cent) to two antibiotics, and eight strains (nine per cent) were resistant to at least three drugs. Two strains were resistant to five antibiotics. One of these showed resistance to ciprofloxacin, tetracycline and erythromycin -- the most important drugs to treat infection caused by campylobacter.

The findings should cause concern among the Swiss consumers, but the picture for other countries may even be bleaker -- antibiotics are given to poultry in lesser quantities in Switzerland than other countries. During a study conducted in the us, 90 per cent of campylobacter strains isolated from poultry meat were found to be resistant to at least one antibiotic, and 45 per cent were resistant to at least two drugs.

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