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Study raises human health concerns over chickens bred in Punjab poultry farms

Researchers from the US-based Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy collected samples from 530 birds in 18 poultry farms and tested them for resistance to a range of antibiotic medications critical to human medicine. Two-thirds reported using antibiotic factors for growth promotion.

punjab Updated: Jul 20, 2017 23:02 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Washington/New Delhi
antibiotics in animal farms,Punjab poultry farms,US study
Testing revealed the presence of certain enzymes that confer drug resistance to medications used, for example, to treat E coli, bacterial pneumonia, and other infections.(HT Representative Image)

Scientists have found high levels of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in chickens being raised for eggs and meat in poultry farms in Punjab, raising serious health concerns for humans.

Researchers from the US-based Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP) collected samples from 530 birds in 18 poultry farms in Punjab and tested them for resistance to a range of antibiotic medications critical to human medicine.

Two-thirds of the farms reported using antibiotic factors for growth promotion, according to the researchers.

National Centre for Disease Control director Dr AC Dhariwal said, “Antibiotic resistance is a public health concern in India for which a national programme called containment of antimicrobial resistance has been launched.”

“Different ministries, including the ministry of agriculture, which deals with usage of antibiotics in animal sector have also been involved,” he said while commenting on the outcome of the study.

Samples from the farms, which reported using antibiotic factors, were three times more likely to be multidrug- resistant than samples from farms that did not use antibiotics to promote growth, the researchers said.

The team found reservoirs of resistance across both types of farms but meat farms had twice the rates of antimicrobial resistance that egg-producing farms had, as well as higher rates of multidrug resistance.

They also found high levels of multidrug resistance, ranging from 39 per cent for ciprofloxacin, used to treat endocarditis, gastroenteritis, cellulitis and other infections, to 86 per cent for nalidixic acid, a common treatment for urinary tract infections.

Additional testing revealed the presence of certain enzymes that confer drug resistance to medications used, for example, to treat E coli, bacterial pneumonia, and other infections. Almost 60% of E coli isolates analysed contained these enzymes, researchers said.

“This study has serious implications, not only for India but globally,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, CDDEP director. “Overuse of antibiotics in animal farms endangers all of us. We must remove antibiotics from the human food chain, except to treat sick animals, or face the increasingly real prospect of a post-antibiotic world,” he added.

Use of antibiotics for growth promotion in farm animals has increased worldwide in response to rising demand for food animal products, researchers said.

Previous studies have projected that antibiotic consumption in food animal production will rise globally by 67% by 2030, including more than a tripling of use in India. The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

First Published: Jul 20, 2017 19:29 IST