Antibiotic Resistance From The Chicken Farm

Chicken and turkey are staples in the American diet, but the antibiotics commonly added to the feed of poultry such as enrofloxacin , SaraFlox,  Baytril belong to a class of antibacterials called fluoroquinolones.

The use of fluoroquinolone drugs by poultry growers  keeps turkeys free from Escherichia coli otherwise known as E. coli infection.  Due to the size of the poultry farms when a bird is found to be infected the entire flock is treated by adding the antibiotic to their drinking water. While the drug may cure the E. coli bacteria in the poultry, other bacteria–Campylobacter– builds up resistance to these drugs. The concern is that while these drugs keep the poultry healthy and free of the E. coli disease they acquire from their own dropping s and waste, humans who consume poultry contaminated with fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter may become infected with drug resistant strains of diarrheal illness.

Campylobacter is a bacteria commonly found in poultry. While it causes no harm to the bird, humans who consume these bacteria from contaminated birds often develop abdominal pains and cramping, fever or diarrhea. The Campylobacter bacteria is passed from poultry to humans through consumption of undercooked or raw chicken and turkey or other foods which have come into direct contact with a bacteria –contaminated bird. Bacteria may be spread from hands, cutting surfaces, knives and other utensils that have not been thoroughly cleaned and sterilized. In people with compromised or weakened immune systems exposure to these bacteria can become a life-threatening event.

People who become infected with the Campylobacter bacteria are often prescribed medication from the class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones. Due to over use of this class of antibiotics; cross-resistance of fluoroquinolone is a growing problem within the medical industry. Fluoroquinolone is considered one of the most valuable and to date effective classes of drugs used to treat not only gastrointestinal infections but also a wide range of conditions and diseases.

The use of antibiotics in livestock has been very controversial. It has been freely used in animal feed to control bacteria and diseases when animals are raised and bred in close, compacted conditions. The FDA first recognized and started calling for restrictions on the use of antibiitcs in animal feed in the early 1970’s. Fluoroquinolones were introduced into livestock feed in 1995. Prior to that time, it was rare to find fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter in people infected with food-borne conditions and diseases within the US. Since 1995, the rate of fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter bacteria is constantly increasing.