A study directed by Centre for Science and Environment's (CSE) Pollution Monitoring Lab suggests that eating antibiotic-fed poultry makes a human's body antibiotic-resistant.
Reports suggest that the poultry industry is growing at the rate of 8 percent to 10 percent annually in India. Around 50 percent of meat consumed in India comprises of poultry. The increasing demand of poultry has also led to high competition in the Indian market. Poultry are fed with antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin to treat infections, make them grow fast and fat. However, restrictions or limitations exist on how much antibiotics can be fed to poultry.
When these antibiotic-fed poultry are consumed by humans it develops antibiotic resistance in humans.
"Public health experts have long suspected that such rampant use of antibiotics in animals could be a reason for increasing antibiotic resistance in India. But the government has no data on the use of antibiotics in the country, let alone on the prevalence of antibiotic resistance. Our study proves the rampant use and also shows that this can be strongly linked to growing antibiotic resistance in humans in India," says Chandra Bhushan, CSE's deputy director general and head of the lab.
For the purpose of the study, researchers collected 70 samples of chicken from the Delhi-NCR region. The scientists note that 36 chicken samples were collected from Delhi and the rest from the nearby areas, which include Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Faridabad. These samples were tested for six normally used antibiotics: chlortetracycline, oxytetracycline, doxycycline, ciprofloxacin, enrofloxacin and neomycin. The research lab tested the kidney, muscle and liver of the chicken.
The researchers say that around 40 percent of the sample had residues of at least one of these antibiotics. Moreover, the residues of more than one antibiotic were found in about 17 percent of the samples.
Scientists say that continued antibiotic use on poultry leads a chicken to develop resistant bacteria, which can be transmitted to human by meat consumption or getting in contact with poultry such as by chicken bites.
When a human is infected by such resistant bacteria they can get infections. As these bacteria can withstand the effect of antibiotics, it makes it difficult to treat infections in humans.
Diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) and pneumonia are treated with antibiotics like ciprofloxacin; however, if the bacteria are antibiotic-resistant then it can get complex to treat such diseases.
Researchers say that they latest finding of the study is just the tip of the iceberg. The research lab suggests that the government should take actions to forbid the use of antibiotics in poultry as growth promoter.