• Drug-resistant bacteria found in chicken in Metro

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    Poultry samples from markets in Metro Manila were found to be contaminated with drug-resistant Campylobacter bacteria, a cause of acute gastroenteritis, a soon to be published study by University of the Philippines researchers found.

    The research team from the UP Institute of Biology and Natural Sciences Research Institute tested 265 samples of chicken parts from 15 wet markets and 15 supermarkets in Metro Manila, and found 202 of them, or about 76 percent, contaminated with either Campylobacter jejuni or Campylobacter coli bacteria, both of which can cause gastroenteritis.

    Acute gastroenteritis from Campylobacter infection causes 400 million to 500 million cases of diarrhea annually, the researchers said. Data from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicate that gastroenteritis is responsible for 1.5 million to 2.5 million deaths annually, mainly among children in developing countries. In a 2010 study, NIH researchers said that up to 12 percent of deaths among children under five years old could be attributed to gastroenteritis.

    In addition, the UP researchers found that most of the bacteria in the contaminated samples were resistance to the common antibiotics used to fight them. “Nearly all of the isolates were resistant to clindamycin (98.6 percent), erythromycin (98.6 percent), nalidixic acid (98.1 percent), and tetracycline (94.2%), while resistance to chloramphenicol (52.7 percent) and gentamicin (65.2 percent) were not as prevalent,” the study’s findings said.

    The researchers said that samples from chicken skin and chicken liver had the highest levels of contamination.

    The study also pointed out that the levels of contamination in samples from Metro Manila were apparently higher than in similar earlier studies conducted in Laguna and Nueva Ecija, and that samples taken from wet markets showed higher levels of drug resistance than those taken from supermarkets.

    “The presence of drug resistant Campylobacter in the samples tested is also a public health concern,” the study concluded. “Further monitoring of chicken products is suggested since the level and type of contamination represents a significant risk to consumers, unless food safety management strategies and pathogen reduction performance standards are implemented strictly in key production points to lower pathogen carriage in public markets.”

    The study, an advance version of which has been made available online, will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Japanese Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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