A study by Indian and American scientists has found unregulated use of antimicrobials in Punjab poultry farms may contribute to resistance to antibiotics. The largest study to date in India that surveyed poultry production to test, has found, use of unregulated antimicrobials in food animal production. Research suggests, many clinically important antimicrobials are used indiscriminately.
The study was published in the latest edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal of research and news published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The researchers from Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana, Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi, Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, Washington and Princeton Environmental Institute, New Jersey, USA selected 18 broiler and layer farms randomly from Punjab.
They found, tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones were the most commonly reported antimicrobials used, with nine (56%) farms reporting their use. Sixteen poultries reported using antimicrobials for disease treatment and prevention, while 12 (67%) reported using antimicrobials for growth promotion.
Since antimicrobials are routinely added to animal feeds, bacterial populations are repeatedly exposed to subtherapeutic doses ideal for the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance. Tests of samples revealed increased prevalence of multidrug resistance (MDR; 94% compared to 60% in layers), including prevalence of ESBL-producing strains (87% compared to 42% in layers) in broiler samples.
Antimicrobials are often employed when broilers are being transported or held prior to slaughter to help them tolerate stress. A majority of the farmers surveyed reported being unaware of the presence of antimicrobial growth promoters (AGPs) premixed in chicken feed purchased from feed mills. Given the size and reach of these poultry farms in the retail market, the risk of exposure to resistant bacteria and antimicrobial compounds to humans is a significant concern.
An earlier study of antimicrobial residues in chicken meat sold for human consumption in New Delhi by Centre for Science and Environment, found that of the 70 chicken meat samples tested, 40% contained antimicrobial residues The most common antimicrobials detected were enrofloxacin (20%), ciprofloxacin (14.3%), doxycycline (14.3%), oxytetracycline (11.4%), and chlortetracycline (1.4%). The high use of fluoroquinolones detected is particularly concerning, given the importance of this broad-spectrum agent in human clinical medicine.
India has no regulation on controlling antibiotic use in the poultry industry, or to control sales of antibiotics to the industry. No limit has been set for antibiotic residues in chicken.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. Without effective antibiotics, the success of major surgery and cancer chemotherapy would be compromised, cost of healthcare for patients with resistant infections is higher than care for patients with non-resistant infections due to longer duration of illness, additional tests and use of more expensive drugs.
According to World Health Organisation, WHO, globally, 4,80,000 people develop multi-drug resistant TB each year, and drug resistance is starting to complicate the fight against HIV and malaria, as well.
Antimicrobial resistance happens when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics). Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as "superbugs". As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.
Source: Environmental Health Perspectives/WHO
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