recent study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found
antibiotics in around 40% of chicken samples tested.
Why is this fact significant
- one may ask. Antibiotics
are used to fight bacterial
infections. Your doctor always advises
you to take antibiotics only when prescribed and to complete the full course
even if you feel better after a few doses.
This is because, if the bacteria are not completely killed, they have a
chance of developing resistance to the antibiotic, that is, the antibiotic may
not be effective against the same bacteria
in the future.
Given the fact that there are a limited number of antibiotics and newer
antibiotics are being made available at a relatively slow rate and at a very
high cost, this could lead to a dangerous situation. Imagine if you have an infection, and no available antibiotic is
effective against it!
The CSE study has
highlighted an important source of
- eating chicken fed with antibiotics. With the growing demands for poultry as food,
farms often use an easy but potentially dangerous method of fattening chickens
infections in them - they give them antibiotics! Thus, bacteria are exposed to the antibiotic and could develop
resistance. In addition, if the small
doses of antibiotics are eaten by humans in their poultry-based foods, the
bacteria in humans could also develop resistance to the antibiotic.
The proportion of chickens
that tested positive for the presence of antibiotics is also alarming. In Delhi and NCR, 40% of the 70 samples
tested were positive for antibiotics.
In fact, some samples showed the presence of multiple antibiotics. The antibiotics included those from the tetracycline
antibiotics that are commonly used for treatment of several infections like urinary tract infections
respiratory tract infections
etc. in humans.
Thus, besides judicious use
of antibiotics to prevent drug resistance, there is yet another way to prevent
drug resistance - ban the use of antibiotics in chicken and other poultry. Previous experience from Denmark shows that
this may not have a detrimental effect on poultry production either.
List of Antibiotic-resistant
Staphylococcus aureus Streptococcus
Escherichia coli Salmonella
India has the dubious
reputation of being a source of resistant bacteria due to the easy availability
of antibiotics - a bacterial enzyme producing resistance is even named after
the national capital. Banning use of
antibiotics in poultry could be an important step in dealing with the problem,
at least to some extent.