Houseflies can spread antibiotic resistant bacteria in poultry farms: Study

Flies can keep the bacteria in their gut for a week and since their flight can last up to 10kms they can act as vectors to disseminate it

By Bhavya Khullar
Last Updated: Thursday 31 May 2018 | 07:17:00 AM
The study says that houseflies can act as reservoirs of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Credit: Jon Sullivan/Pixnio
The study says that houseflies can act as reservoirs of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Credit: Jon Sullivan/Pixnio The study says that houseflies can act as reservoirs of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Credit: Jon Sullivan/Pixnio

Insects such as houseflies are routinely seen in poultry farms and are known to disseminate microbes. A recent study has shown that houseflies can act as reservoirs of antibiotic resistant bacteria and play an important role in helping spread the bacteria in the farm environment.

A team of Japanese scientists, from the Department of Health and Environmental Sciences of the Rakuno Gakuen University in Hokkaidu, and the School of Veterinary Medicine of the Kitasato University in Aomori, found that when flies ingested with antibiotic resistant bacteria through food, the microbes were able to persist in their gut for a week. When these flies subsequently reproduced, antibiotic resistant bacteria could be detected in their eggs, young pupae, and maggots. “Resistant bacteria persisted in the houseflies throughout their life cycle, from adult houseflies as they proceeded to the next generation,” the authors said.

“Since flies can travel more than 10 kilometers owing to their strong flight capability, they could act as vectors that widely disseminate antibiotic resistant bacteria in the farm environment,” the authors noted in their paper. The results were published in a recent issue of the journal Microbial Drug Resistance

Antibiotic resistant bacteria are an emerging threat to human and veterinary medicine. Long-term existence of resistant bacteria in poultry farms can lead to contamination of livestock products. As a result, antibiotic resistant bacteria can eventually make their way into humans through the food chain. To mitigate the issue of rising antibiotic resistance on poultry farms, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recommends ensuring good hygiene and bio-security measures on farms to prevent the need for antibiotics for treating animals and applying best practices for waste management to control the dispersal of resistant microbes in the environment.

According to the authors, “Vector control in farms is vital to decrease the risk of dissemination and maintenance of harmful microorganisms. Hygiene management including the control of insects may prevent the maintenance and circulation of antibiotic resistant bacteria on farms.”

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IEP Resources:

Global antimicrobial resistance surveillance system (GLASS) report: early implementation 2016-2017

Antibiotic resistance in poultry environment: spread of resistance from poultry farm to agricultural field

Antibiotic resistance in poultry environment

Antibiotic resistance in an Indian rural community: A ‘One-Health’ observational study on commensal coliform from humans, animals, and water

Dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes from antibiotic producers to pathogens

Collective resistance in microbial communities by intracellular antibiotic deactivation

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