December 18, 2018
US research discovers antibiotic resistance gene in backyard chickens
Researchers from the University of Michigan (US) had discovered a gene associated with antibiotic resistance in backyard chickens and children, with that gene previously known to be present in broiler chickens as well, Xinhua reported.
The study was based on an examination of antibiotic-resistant bacteria populations in farmed broiler chickens, free-range backyard chickens and children in remote northwestern Ecuador. In 2015, the researchers went to several rural communities in Ecuador's Esmeraldas Province and sampled chickens from 10 households that raised broiler chickens fed with antibiotics and raised in a coop. Backyard birds tend to wander freely inside and outside of homes.
The team also sampled backyard chickens from 10 households where there were no broiler chicken samples. In addition, the researchers collected samples from children in the farming community two years later.
Based on the study, a high resistance to cefotaxime was discovered. Cefotexime is an antibiotic that is critically important to poultry birds and humans.
Of the farmed broiler chickens sampled, 66% had cefotaxime resistance. Backyard chickens showed an increase in resistance - from around 2% to close to 18% - over time after the broilers' introduction to the area.
"Results from this study illustrate an ongoing theme in development work, where small-scale chicken farming on the one hand can help alleviate poverty and reduce food insecurity, but on the other hand, can have negative public health implications," said Joseph Eisenberg, a professor at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health.
Resistance for third-generation antibiotics like cefotaxime in humans historically was very rare in this region until recently.